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Caught in Winds of Destiny (attn. Myrrhi)


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.. In the Face of Beginner Mistakes ..



"You will teach me about the common mistakes a rider can do?" she replied to Elessar's ‘program’ for the day. "I don't know what you are talking about", she added laughing.


He joined in the laughter, enjoying her cheerful mood. "Indeed." He said with a merry grin. "Yes, we shall look at some common mistakes that are often made by beginners. Some might undeniably seem a touch.. familiar.. others perhaps not. But it is useful to be aware of them all, to become a better rider."


"Allright." He began. "The first common beginner mistake, we can call ‘Hands in the air’". He said.  "It is instinctual for us to use our hands and arms to balance us when we start to feel insecure. Beginner riders often end up with their hands way up in the air, sometimes at shoulder height." They shared a knowing grin. "This leaves the reins much too long, and the rider then has no control of the horse. Or, the rider allows the reins to slide through their hands, and lifts their hands to make contact, rather than shortening the reins." The Warder nodded. "Instead, one should work on following the movement of the horse with your seat and core. Keep a light, even tension on the reins and keep your hands at hip level. Readjust the reins if the horse pulls them loose. You should be able to feel a very slight tension on the reins when you pull back. Keep your hands at hip level and your elbows at your side."


"Another common beginner mistake, and one I have remarked upon a few times," he added with a wink, "is what we call ‘Gripping tightly with your legs’. Riding is, in a way, more about balance than grip. Your muscles will be active, without being tense, and you don't want to be a clothespin on your horse's back." He explained. "Clenching with your upper, or lower leg, or both, is tiring and may be understood by your horse as a cue to move forward. Clenching and gripping will make your body tense, which can affect your horse's attitude. The solution here", he continued, "is, when you sit in the saddle, let your leg hang from the hip. Allow your weight to fall down into your heel. If you're jamming your heel down, you may also be pinching with your knees or clenching with your legs. Keep your foot under you, rather than allowing your leg to swing to the front or back." He added. "There should be an imaginary straight line from your ear, shoulder, hip to your heel." He saw a grin growing on Myrrhi’s face and added, with a very wry grin, "Yes, I found that last bit of invaluable information in a book about horses." They both burst into laughter.



"Now then," he began, once they had composed themselves, "we have talked about holding the reins properly," he said. "Let me add to that, since another beginner mistake is what is called ‘Letting the reins slide’. Horses move their heads when they move, and if a rider does not accommodate this movement, they will have the reins pulled through their hands. This leaves the rider with little contact on the bit, or ability to cue the horse with the reins properly." He explained. "The rider then compensates by either lifting their hands high up or attempting to pull the reins with their hands almost behind them."


"In this case it is important to remember that riding is, in a way, a constant process of re-balancing and re-adjusting. However, even at a walk a horse's head bobs up and down, so the rider needs to move their arms and hands so the reins don't become too long." He said. "Let your arms hang down your sides, allowing them to swing subtly as if your shoulders were hinges. If the horse pulls forward-such as when it trips, sneezes or steps over something, learn to use your arms to give the horse more rein, and not let the reins slide through your fingers. Learn how to shorten your reins as you go. Furthermore, as you increase the pace, you will need to shorten the reins, because the horse actually lifts its head up slightly as it trots and canters or lopes."


"There is also a common beginner mistake we call ‘Slouching’", he added with a grin. "Some beginners who are apprehensive about riding, nervous riders, appear to want to curl into the fetal position as they ride." He said. "However, it's hard to control a horse while hunched, and your balance will be affected. Anything that affects our balance also affects our horse's ability to do it's job well. Instead one should sit up straight, but relaxed. Keep your chin up and look where you are going." He continued. "Squeezing your shoulder blades back can make you feel tense, so instead, think of opening up your chest and letting your breastbone float upwards. You want to stay supple and tension free." He nodded. "A common beginner mistake", he added, "in relation to this, is alas to look down at the horse while you ride, for instance to ‘keep an eye on her’ if you are a little wary." He winked at her knowingly. "Gaze instead ahead and when turning, look at your destination, before cuing for the turn. This puts you in better balance."


He shifted his gaze for a moment to the sky above as a large bird of prey flew past on its way southwards - perhaps its destination was the Sea of Storms, he thought -, a black speck against the blue background. The Accepted followed it with her eyes as well, and soon the bird had disappeared in the far horizon.


Meeting her eyes again, the Gaidin said. "Finally, there is one more matter to consider." He looked consideringly at the Accepted for a long while, trying to the best of his ability to appear serious, before he spoke. "I wonder.. what Ajah do you think Moonray will choose when it is her time to be raised?" Myrrhi looked perplexed for a second, then stunned; then she grinned and burst into hearty laughter at the joke and Elessar soon joined her. "It’s gotta be Brown, right?" he added, thinking of her colour, amid a flood of chuckles, "though I have been wondering if she might instead go for White, her being so cool and calm and all.." The hilarity and absurdity of the notion - and jest - almost made them double over from laughter - and it took a good while for them to get over it.



"Now as we ride, try and keep these things in mind." He said a little later, as they mounted their horses. "The fewer mistakes made, the safer you and the horse will be, and the more control - and confidence - you will have with your riding." They rode slowly, at a leisurely canter, down the field, almost side by side, and Elessar watched her riding with a teacher’s eye for detail. When they came to the end of the field, they stopped and the Warder commented on what he thought she had done well and which areas needed improvement.


They turned and rode slowly back toward the starting point. The Gaidin nodded approvingly. She seemed to have found better balance in the saddle, better control. They were, however, riding very slowly, just a little beyond a walk, and when they picked up speed it would be harder for her to manage. Still, he was pleased with the way things were going and his contentment showed in his face.


"Now, let’s try the same on harder ground." He said, waving towards the path or light mud track that ran parallell to the field on the sides. "It will feel a little different in the saddle since the ground is harder," Elessar explained, "but it is useful for you and the horse to get used to riding on harder ground too."


They moved across to the light mud track and started forwards carefully. "We take it slowly, as before," he uttered, as they cantered indolently down the path. Stormbreaker was eager to pick up speed, the Gaidin felt it in the beast’s movements, so he had to hold him back as they rode. Moonray, on the other hand, seemed content with the speed and direction chosen and followed Myrrhi’s cues and actions diligently.



Another week or so passed in this fashion, riding in the field each late morning to early afternoon and following Elessar’s instructions and advice. Each day Myrrhi seemed a little more at ease in the saddle, from what the Gaidin could see, and they gradually tried cantering a little faster along the light mud track and also on the field, though Elessar made sure they did not approach the speed of a fast canter, since he felt that that would be a little too much for the Accepted. She made mistakes at times, as all beginners would, but often corrected herself and took her teacher’s advice as he continued to encourage her. As her confidence grew, she became better at signalling her horse to move as she wanted - using her legs and body, verbal cues and prompts - and to steer the mount adequately, pulling correctly on the reins. If I had eight months I might make an expert rider out of you, thought the Warder, as he watched the young woman ride. We’ll have to make do with these two weeks. At least you will have learned the basics.


At the end of this period, he gave her a day off. "You have made great progress", he said one day with a wide smile. "But I think you - and your lower back muscles -" , he added with a shrewd grin, "need a little rest now. There has been much to learn and much knowledge to digest. You deserve a break." He said, appraisingly. "Take a day off, take your mind off anything to do with horses or riding, and then in two days return - and we will then begin the last part of your lessons."



And rightly, two days later, on a sunny and cloudless morning, they met up, as agreed, at the stables - the Gaidin in his Warder fancloak and the Accepted in her banded dress with her brown breeches - and collected their loyal mounts. They both smiled and seemed enthusiastic about this last part of the riding lessons and Elessar got the impression that the Accepted truly looked forward to it. They rode the horses slowly through the city, past merchants and shopkeepers, early-riser locals and foreigners, side by side but with Myrrhi the accustomed half length behind, past the West Bridge, along the southern road and towards the now very familiar practice field in the woods.


Little did they know, that it was to be an ill-omened day..



”When you Stumble into Straits of Adversity,

sometimes you must Ride the Winds of Fate.”


Old Altaran proverb, the Third Age



Edited by Elessar
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Myrrhi smiled when she heard the name of the first “common mistake” Elessar would be talking about. “Hands in the air” it was called. For the Accepted the terms seemed to be more connected to robberies than to riding. Immediately her mind started to wander as she remembered a very nice novel with a brigand as hero. “Hands in the air” seemed to have been his favorite expression. No, she told herself interrupting her thoughts.  I really need to pay attention to this… And back, her eyes went on the Warder.


The man explained that it was not advised for one to raise his or her hands up in the air when feeling scared or insecure. He showed the motion, imitating a rider, and grinned. The young woman grinned back. Indeed, the mistake was quite familiar to her.


"This leaves the reins much too long, and the rider then has no control of the horse. Or, the rider allows the reins to slide through their hands, and lifts their hands to make contact, rather than shortening the reins." The Warder nodded and went on with his explanation. Again he insisted that it was important to keep a light tension on the reins – something that Myrrhi often forgot – and to have her hands at hip level.


The second mistake had also a every explanatory name. “Gripping tightly with your legs”. In a few sentences, Elessar summed up the mistake and how to prevent it. This is getting very interesting, thought the Accepted. Her butt and legs were still stiff from the last lesson. She had tried to massage them with oil the night before but hadn’t had any real success at loosening her muscles. Healing herself was impossible so she had had to resort to using a herbal tea to sooth her pain.


"There should be an imaginary straight line from your ear, shoulder, hip to your heel." The Warder passed a hand in front of his body to trace the imaginary line. At the sight of Myrrhi’s raised eyebrow, he added "Yes, I found that last bit of invaluable information in a book about horses." They both burst into laughter.


The day was very different from the previous ones to the Accepted. It seemed to her that a weight had left from her heart. Feeling a real motivation to learn, she surprised herself thinking about ways to improve her riding instead of ways to escape her fears. The Warder’s behavior looked a bit differed, too. He seemed more relaxed, more prompt to laugh. Is it because I feel better myself? She wondered.


Then came “Letting the reins slide”, “Slouching”, other mistakes that Myrrhi had made. Elessar never judged. He simply presented what was to be avoided and the ways to avoid them. The young woman felt very grateful for it. The little confidence she had was left untouched.


The lesson was interrupted by a large bird of prey that crossed the sky. Both stopped to watch it until it disappeared in the far horizon. The young woman wished it farewell and turned her head towards Elessar. Their eyes met. She wanted to tell him about the bird, about travelling, but stayed silent deciding to keep her mind on the the class at hand.


"Finally, there is one more matter to consider." He said, with his eyes still on Myrrhi.  The Accepted breathed in, trying to ready herself for whatever was about to come. Many pictures came into her mind. What is he talking about? Will be make me ride again? Maybe faster this time? The Warder had become more serious, a small scowl had appeared on his face. After what seemed to be ages, he finally opened his mouth.


"I wonder.. what Ajah do you think Moonray will choose when it is her time to be raised?"


Stunned, the young woman opened her mouth then closed it. She opened it again, grinned and burst into hearty laughter. Elessar accompanied her.


"It’s gotta be Brown, right?" he added, amid a flood of chuckles, "though I have been wondering if she might instead go for White, her being so cool and calm and all.."


Tears came to Myrrhi’s eyes as she went on laughing. She imagined the poor mare covered with a shawl. “I don’t think she’s that good at logical thinking.” She replied almost chocking on her words. “But I have to admit that she is cool and calm. I would have said Yellow, myself. She healed me from my fear… at least a good part of it.”


It took the both of them a couple of minutes to come back to a more serious state. Myrrhi tried to summon an Aes Sedai like face more than once – eager to go forward with her learning - but failed as soon as she looked toward her teacher. I had not noticed how good he looks when he laughs, she thought, blushing, after her last hiccups of laughter.


The time to mount on the horses came again. This time Myrrhi paid much more attention to her legs, hands, elbows. She found herself more confident now as she was riding beside the Warder. When they reached the end of the field, they stopped for a while. The Warder made a small debriefing of what he had seen. Myrrhi had done well but there was still room for improvement. The Accepted nodded, agreeing with her teacher.


A couple of minutes later, they returned to their starting point. The young woman focused, trying hard to correct her position.  


Myrrhi thought they would leave again for another circle when the Warder invited her to ride on a harder ground. For once, she didn’t feel scared. She even felt curious. Like before, they started slowly. The path that led them back into the forest was darker but it gave her a true feeling of adventure. She could feel little animals close by, birds, squirrels, ... New smells, new noises came to her. Soon, she lost herself on daydreams each more fantastic than the previous ones. Would she see a Ogier between the trees or maybe a wolf that would let her approach? She smiled.






A little over than a week had passed. Today, she would be riding with Elessar again. She tried not to think about what would happen next, when the lessons would be over. She had mentioned the subject once or twice when talking to a couple of Aes Sedai as well as in front of the Mistress of the Novices. None of them had reacted to the subject, letting her understand that these riding lessons were a big favor offered to her only because a Green Aes Sedai had had a fancy. It had become quite clear that, as soon as she would be done with it, she would have to go back to a more common schedule.


The class had been interrupted by a two days break. It was hard to believe for Myrrhi but she had felt completely lost during those two days. She had missed the Warder and his reassuring presence that made her think that she was a real person, not only a child. Many times, she had turned her head to tell him something and had only found emptiness meeting her eyes. His presence had become such a given that it had been strange not to have him around.


Even though the break had been planned so that her back could rest a bit, it hadn’t felt better. It even felt slightly worse. The Mistress of the Novices had been informed of the pause and had sent the Accepted to take care of even more chores than usual. The days had been long but uneventful. The young woman had taken advantage of the quiet as well as of her new schedule to move forward with some of her studies. For two days she had barely slept and eaten only a few bits of bread here and there.


I am so happy this break is over,  Myrrhi  thought happily. As soon a she recognized Elessar – he looked pretty impressive with his Warder cloak on his shoulders - she started to run. The young woman had been in such a rush, that she had barely taken the time to get ready. For the first time since she had started the riding lesson her hair were lose, flying as she ran.


“Good morning, teacher Gaidin.” She greeted the Warder as enthusiastically as she would have a friend. Elessar greeted her back and they exchanged some words.  Then they went on their way. This time they rode all the way through the city, then towards their usual training area. The Accepted felt much more chatty than ever but didn’t dare to talk too much. The riding still demanded of her a full concentration.


“What are we doing today?” She asked, smiling when they arrived to the open field.

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.. Captivated by the Story of the ‘Soldier Amyrlin’ ..



“What are we doing today?” She asked, smiling when they arrived at the open field.


Elessar smiled back, noticing her eagerness. She seems more confident. Thought the Warder, watching her closely. The couple of days off must have done her good.


Gazing upwards for a moment, into the ocean-blue skies framed by the golden sun, the Gaidin sighed contentedly. The fresh smell of the woods and field, the vibrant scent of nature gave him a thrill. I have been far too much indoors these past years, he thought not for the first time. It is out here, on the road, with a bondholder.. that I belong. Memories of countless missions, countless journeys to nations far and wide, with former bondholders flashed in his mind. Shifting his gaze slowly back to the young woman he pushed those memories away. He had to focus on the here and now.


“Well, we are nearing the end of your lessons,“ he said in reply. It seemed for a moment as if her face darkened slightly, but with the way the light fell on her face he could have been mistaken. “Today I thought we would continue where we left off the other day.“ He said. “We’ll first ride down the field on soft ground a few times, to further ‘polish’ your riding skills, then we’ll try the harder ground again, but a bit longer this time.“ He added. “After that.. well, we’ll see.“ She nodded, her eyes seeming to sparkle, and they mounted their horses, Elessar giving her a ‘leg up’ as before. She swung her leg nicely over Moonray’s back, smiling, and the Warder nodded approvingly. They rode down the field, side by side, at a speed the Gaidin would have called a ‘slow to medium’ canter and he watched the Accepted carefully, monitoring her skills. She seemed to have listened well to his advice regarding mistakes to avoid while riding, he could see, and she made fewer mistakes. Back at the starting point, the Warder then lead the way down the harder mud-track along the border to the woods.


It was darker there and thick branches hid the sun from view at several junctions. Several paths at intersections lead further into the woods, but they stayed clear of those. Elessar knew that the deeper heart of the woods consisted of some hill-country, ponds with steep cliffs surrounding, heavy brush and narrow paths that were almost unpassable, as well as wild animals - of the more dangerous kind - that lived there. It was safest to stay away from that part of the forest. He did not want to take any chances with the young woman. She was in his custody in a way during this training period and if anything were to happen to her the Mistress of Novices would, he knew, take it out of his hide. After a long ride along the fringes of the trees they stopped, turned the horses around and headed back. Sweat from the exertion now beaded the backs of the horses and so the riders slowed down to a ‘slow’ canter for the return ride.



After the extensive riding and instructions, Elessar finally said it was time for a break. They dismounted in good order and tethered the horses to some nearby trees, brushing some sweat from their loyal mounts and handing them a few carrots each to enjoy. Moonray took the treat carefully when Myrrhi fed her the carrot, while Stormbreaker half sank his teeth in Elessar’s thumb, producing a curse from the Gaidin and a baleful look at the stallion. Stormbreaker did not look the least bit guilty, but he took a step back at the dark look in Elessar’s eyes. And you will be wise to remember that for next time, my loyal companion. The stallion gave him a long look and the Gaidin turned away in disgust. He and the Accepted then sat down beneath one of the larger trees surrounding the field, an oak if Elessar remembered his scant tree-lore, their backs to a huge trunk. They drank some water from a flask they had brought and ate some slivers of cold meat, relaxing in the silence and companionship.


As he ate, Elessar thought about how comfortable he felt with this young woman.. it reminded him of his early years with a young Leandreen, his first bondholder, in the time after she had been raised. She had been a little older than this Accepted, that was true, but not by that much, he thought. He had felt the same then.. A kind of kinship.. A kindred soul.. It was a strange feeling.. surprising in a way.. but not one he could afford to have now. Myrrhi was going back to her studies and chores after the lessons were done - and he had his duties and his many errands to do in the Tower. He might not ever see her again, who could tell. Even so, thoughts of his various bonds - and bondholders - stuck long in his mind.. They talked for a while after they had sated their thirst and hunger, about the lesson and how they thought it had gone, and about unrelated matters. The Accepted seemed in a very good mood and talked a lot and the Warder listened and replied as best he could. They laughed a lot, sharing some jokes and good stories.


Time passed quickly - and soon it was time for the last part of the lesson that day. Elessar had one thing to do first, though. He thought this was an appropriate moment to give her the poem he had promised her on that first day in the library. He was very pleased with her progress, the improvement she had shown over the past week. She was almost finished with this basic training, only a few more things remained to teach her. But first she will learn of Rashima Kerenmosa, he thought with an inward grin, one of the greatest warrior Amyrlins in history. A Battle Ajah Sister - a heroine to any aspiring Green!



“I promised you earlier, if you recall,“ he said, facing her, “that if the lessons went well I would recite for you the famous poem of Rashima Kerenmosa.“ Said the Gaidin with a smile. “You have done very well, I think.“ He said, earnestly praising her, and saw her blush slightly, pleased by his comment. “And I think this is a good time for that poem.“ He was silent for a moment as some sounds and noises from the woods intruded upon them. Deer or rodents. He thought momentarily, as he composed himself. The sounds soon disappeared, as the creatures moved further away, and the two were left in almost reverent silence. “It is called ‘Honour to the ‘Soldier Amyrlin’, he said breaking the silence. With a smile, Elessar then began his recital, his voice taking on a slightly different - more reverent - tone, as he told the epic and captivating story of this strong and heroic woman of the Battle Ajah, one of the most famous Amyrlins and leaders of the White Tower in history - who was to be known, for eternity, as the ‘Soldier Amyrlin’.





Honour to the ‘Soldier Amyrlin’


Brave Rashima Kerenmosa! Valiant Sister of the Green

The Flame of Tar Valon, boldest Leader ever Seen

A Sister of Battle, she the Shadow fought with Might

In the Trolloc Wars she battled, gave her Life for the Light


A General, a Politician - her Talents were There

She handled situations with Tact and with Care

But as a Military Leader she was Respected by All

She led the Ten Nations through Fire and Gall


When Aridhol fell and Manetheren as Well.

Rashima restored morale in the Compact, they Tell

She led the defence of Tar Valon with Strength

When Trollocs attacked the Sedai city at Length


Victories followed at Kaisin Pass and Larapelle

The Sorelle Step, Tel Norwin where many soldiers Fell

In the middle of Battle, the Amyrlin fought Strong

To vanquish the Shadow, the Evil, the Wrong


The Battle of Maighande was the Beginning of the End

For brave Rashima, though they Conquered, my Friend

The back of the invasion they Broke, the Shadow’s Plan

At Maighande, where ‘the Victory of humankind’ Began


Rashima died a hero, with her five Warders Near

Valiant as few! Battle Sister, Honour Clear.

‘Round their bodies a wall of Trolloc corpses’ Stain

With many dead Fades and nine Dreadlords Slain


Brave Rashima Kerenmosa! Valiant Sister of the Light

The ‘Soldier Amyrlin’, a Star shining Bright

A Sister of Battle, she’ll be Remembered by All

In the Turning of the Wheel, until Darkness’ Fall






Edited by Elessar
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The young woman’s heart tightened when Elessar reminded her that they were nearing the end of the riding classes. She tried not to show it on her face. She wanted to pout and to say that two weeks were not enough to learn how to ride, that she should be allowed at least one more month, that the Mistress of the Novices was being unfair ...  but as an Accepted she knew she couldn’t go that far. What would the Warder think of her if she behaved like a child?


Elessar explained that the day's lesson would start with a first ride on a soft ground. It would be the perfect occasion for her to get back unto the saddle after the short break she had had, he told her. Myrrhi nodded, eyes sparkling. Once again, the Warder helped the young woman on Moonray’s back. I should practice to mount on my own, she thought. But, not immediately… Her eyes met Elessar’s and she smiled. She didn’t want him to stop giving her a “leg up” as he called it. The little ritual had become important to her. It was as if his touch was bringing her luck and courage for the lesson to come.


The first part of the ride was very enjoyable for the Accepted. She settled herself in a comfortable position, thinking hard about what she had to do with her hands, elbows and thighs. It didn’t take her long to feel confident again. As they went from a slow to a faster canter, she focused on her riding to avoid making mistakes. She still made a couple but felt proud when she managed to corrected them before the Warder noticed anything.


When they arrived at their starting point, the Warder took the lead. He brought them to a mud track that was running along the border to the woods.  


The scenery slowly changed. It became harder to see the ocean blue sky, as it was getting hidden by more and more thick branches. Myrrhi followed the Warder curious to discover where the path would lead them. She didn’t mind the darker surroundings, her love for the forest made her feel strangely relaxed. The young woman fought not to start daydreaming . The trees, the wildlife, the new scents pushed her to envision herself going through fantastic quests but she knew it would be a very bad idea to follow nature’s call. She needed to concentrate on the mare and on her riding if she didn't want to fall.


Silently they reached an invisible point and Elessar invited Myrrhi to get back to the familiar open field. They turned their horses, then went forward this time at a slower pace. The Accepted didn't protest. Sweat beaded on the backs of the horses as well as on the young woman’s forehead.




Elessar signaled Myrrhi to stop her mount; so they could have a welcomed break. They dismounted and tethered the horses to some nearby trees. There, they brushed the sweat from their mounts and fed them a few carrots. Myrrhi affectionately patted Moonray on the nose. She was thanking the mare for her help when she heard a curse coming from the Warder. Quickly assessing the situation, the Accepted understood what had happened. Stormbreaker had bit on the Warder’s thumb as he had been handing a treat to the stallion. The horse didn’t look sorry for what he had done. He stood there, eyes wide, as if nothing had happened. Elessar’s glare deepened and the horse finally made a step back.


“Does it hurt?” asked the Accepted trying not to laugh. “Do you want me to Heal you?”


The Warder smiled, thanked the Accepted for the offer but refused her help. “It is nothing,” he said, explaining that he had been through worse…a lot worst.


Chatting, they came to a large oak and sat at its feet. As soon as they were on the ground, Elessar handed Myrrhi a flask. The water it contained was lukewarm but it was still refreshing. The Warder also offered her some pieces of cold meat. She enjoyed them: her stomach had been rumbling for a while now even though It was not noon yet. The Accepted liked to have a very early breakfast... even if it would often leave her famished in the middle of the morning.   


The young woman and the Warder talked for some time. Instead of talking about riding, as they had done so many time in the previous days, they picked lighter topics that made them laugh, grin and smile. They even shared some jokes to Myrrhi’s delight. She felt strangely comfortable talking the Warder.


Time passed and the young woman thought it was time to go when Elessar placed a hand on her arm. 


“I promised you earlier, if you recall,“ he said with a smile. “that if the lessons went well I would recite for you the famous poem of Rashima Kerenmosa. You have done very well, I think.“ The Warder looked earnest about his comments. It made the Accepted blush, pleased by the sudden praise. “And I think this is a good time for that poem.“ he went on. He made a pause and Myrrhi giggled. I really must have done well then! She thought proudly.


As she thanked the Warder, she saw his face changing. It became more focused more serious than before. She was ready to ask him about what was happening when he broke the silence.


“It is called ‘Honour to the ‘Soldier Amyrlin’“, he said with a smile before he began his recital.




“I love it,” replied Myrrhi as soon as she was done, applauding the Warder with enthusiasm. “It is a wonderful poem. I don’t think I’ll ever be able to write something like that. And you recited it perfectly” The Warder grinned and thanked the Accepted for her praises. Telling her it was time to go, he stood up. He extended a hand to the young woman to help her get on her feet. 

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.. The Chaos of Fear, Danger and Flight ..



Thank you. He said in reply, with glee in his eyes, delighted that she had appreciated the poem and his recital so much. Am glad you enjoyed it!


He added, with a smile, that he would, perhaps, share more poetry with her some other time, if she were interested and they got the opportunity. Her eyes sparkled in answer. Then he said it was time for them to continue with the day’s lesson, he stood up and extended a hand to the young woman to help her get on her feet. She clasped his hand warmly and smiled as he pulled her up beside him. They walked together to the tethered horses and patted them affectionately on the nose and back. Stormbreaker looked slightly abashed this time when the Warder met his eyes, the former incident still fresh in mind, and Elessar nodded approvingly. The stallion would not make the same mistake again.


Shifting his gaze to the Accepted, he said, Now then, this is what we have left to do today.


Elessar explained that the last part of that day’s lesson would consist of some training exercises with the horses, followed by another run down the harder mud-paved ground track beside the field.


First though, he began, I’ll show you a little more about handling - and thereby controlling -  the horse. They untethered their mounts, mounted and brought them into the field. Elessar moved his warhorse a little away from Moonray so that he would have space for his maneuvers. He went on to show her more techniques to use when turning a horse this way and that, cues and signals to make use of, and making the horse walk backwards. Walking backwards, or ‘backing’ as it is also called, is in fact an illogical movement for horses“, he said. “It is not a natural defense or play maneuver. The horse backs by moving its legs in diagonal pairs, just like it does at the trot. So it has to shift its weight from side to side in order to back.“ He explained. The horse that is backing properly does not squat on his hindquarters or get dragged backwards by the pressure of the halter or the bit. The rider must apply alternate side-to-side pressures, by squeezing the legs in appropriate fashion, to ask the horse to shift its weight from side to side in order to back.


He showed her properly how to do so, having only touched on the subject before, maneuvering his black stallion in backward steps, adding that it takes some practice to do it well. With the Warder shouting encouragment, she tried several times to do it the way he had said, atop a slightly sceptical light brown mare, and managed partially. She agreed with him, however, that it would take much more practice to learn this special maneuver properly.



They rode down the mud-paved track along the border of the trees, dust flying in their wake. Myrrhi seemed in tune with her horse’s movements, and Elessar was again reminded of the strides she had made since the beginning of their lessons. After a long while they stopped close to some tall trees and heavy brush and foliage on their right hand side, letting their mounts rest a little. As they waited, they talked a little as the Warder gave the young woman feedback on her riding.


He was just about to comment on her use of the reins on the last part of this ride, when they suddenly heard someone shout out in the distance. It was a male voice, they recognized. Far away, much further up the track they had come down, Elessar saw someone wave at them. It was quite some distance away and too far to see any details, but the person seemed to be alone. The Gaidin looked at the young woman and considered. Should they ride back together? Was that necessary? No, I can sort it while she waits. Making a quick decision, he spoke to her.



"Stay where you are..." Elessar told Myrrhi in measured tones, as he rode away toward the man who had called out in the distance. "I’ll be right back." He shouted over his shoulder. He did not like to leave her, he was responsible for her after all, but he did not see any danger to her and he would be back shortly. He soon came upon the man, Stormbreaker coming to an abrupt stop just before him. He was a Southerner by his looks, a man of middle years with dark hair and somewhat vacant brown eyes, the Warder thought, and he quickly explained to the Gaidin that he was out on a walk in the woods and had gotten lost. Elessar tried to hide an involuntary frown - the man seemed to his eyes to be another of those city-dwellers who went forest-hiking without proper preparations or equipment - as he told him which direction to take to get back safely to Tar Valon.


The man nodded and was just about to thank him, or so it seemed, when suddenly there was a loud scream in the distance. The hairs on his arms stood on end as Elessar turned rapidly and saw far way what looked like Moonray rearing. Myrrhi! Swiftly Elessar turned Stormbreaker around and without another word to the stranger he practically flew down the path in full gallop towards the place he had left the Accepted! He had no idea what danger she could be in, but the mare would not have reared - and she screamed - if she had not been in trouble. The only thought in the Warder’s head as he rode like the wind, was: Don’t let me be too late! But even as he closed some of the distance, he saw Moonray storm off in the other direction with Myrrhi barely hanging on..



A Sound made the Accepted turn around the mare. Something stood not far away under the trees, scraping the earth with its feet or claws. She looked more closely and then the thing, whatever it was, moved into partial sunlight. Now she could see better. It was a large wild boar! Brown in colour, it was bulky, and massively built with piercing eyes and dangerously sharp tusks. It stopped, seeming surprised by the horse and its rider. It sniffed the air tentatively, considering its next move. Myrrhi sat atop her horse with her heart in her throat. Protective of herself but also of her mare, her first instinct was to scream for Elessar, for help, but she was unable to utter a sound. Almost paralyzed she waited what felt like an eternity.


A second passed.

Then another.

Then a third.


And then, feeling threatened, the beast charged!


It came at the young woman and Moonray at full speed, its long sharp tusks levelled straight at the mount’s unprotected legs! Myrrhi screamed loudly - by reflex this time - and her horse, ears pinned back with the whites of her eyes showing, reared in fright, almost throwing her to the ground!


By sheer luck she managed to hold onto the reins, one hand grabbing Moonray’s mane, as the mare kicked out with its legs and then bolted - just in time - and ran as if she had the Dark One in pursuit, away from the charging wild boar and the imminent danger. The Accepted was hardly able to stay in the saddle as the horse flew down the hard ground path along the trees, but somehow she avoided being thrown. She had no control over the horse, however, and could only hold on for dear life and stare forwards in panicked fright as Moonray raced down the dark paths in a fast canter - faster than  Myrrhi had ever ridden!


At the first intersection the unnerved mare swept onto another path, to the right - a narrow path, surrounded by trees and overhanging branches - that lead away from the mud-paved track, and with a panic-stricken, terrified young woman of the White Tower on her back, Moonray raced at high speed.. straight into the forest deep!




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Walking backwards with a horse seemed to be an impossible thing to do. Sweat ran down Myrrhi’s forehead. She brushed it with a her right hand before placing it again on the reins.


“I don’t think I can do it,” she said, finding herself completely lost. She knew she had to do something to help her mare so that she would make another step back, but she couldn’t remember what. She had tried to focus on Elessar’s advices but they weren’t enough. Was it because she was afraid to fall? Or because she was still distracted by the poem the Warder had recited?


For this exercise she had to move her body so that her legs and weight would accompany each of Moonray’s movements. It was easier said than done. Staying in harmony with the horse was hard when one had difficulties to concentrate on the work at hand. The Warder made a step towards the Accepted and gave her some encouragements. He told her that she didn’t need to worry, that she would have to practice more later but that it was important for her to have a try at it. The young woman sighed. She tried to push away all the negative thoughts what were filling her head to make room to her teacher instructions.


“I don’t think I can do anything better today,” Myrrhi finally said, showing with the tone of her voice how frustrated she was. The Warder smiled and invited her to follow him for the next part of the lesson. As planned, they would now be riding on a harder ground.


The Accepted clapped in her hands, happily.


“This is a wonderful idea, Elessar Gaidin,” she said. She had once again used his title, not to show herself more polite than she had to but because she liked to say it. “It will me make me forget about my failures at this backward business.” They both laughed.


The track Elessar had picked was not a very complicated one. It was straight and there were only a few places where Myrrhi had to pay a bit more attention to what she was doing. So, for the best part of the journey, she concentrated on her riding position.


After what seemed to be a long while, they stopped to a spot surrounded by more trees and bushes than the areas they had crossed before. It almost looked like a tunnel made of plants and greenery. The Warder took advantage the break to give the Accepted some feedback: things could still be improved, but overall she had done well.


Suddenly someone shouted in the distance. Myrrhi moved as much as she dared to on her saddle to see who could have been calling. She recognize the voice as belonging to a man … but it was hard to see what he looked like, unfortunately. The man was standing further away, half hidden due to the bending of the road.


Myrrhi was going to ask what they should do when the Warder told her to stay were she was. He didn’t leave her the chance to protest. As soon as he had pronounced his last words he rode away to meet the newcomer.

The Accepted frowned. The man was stealing precious minutes from her lesson. He should be ashamed of himself, she thought. Preventing me to spend my riding time with Elessar…. Well then, she added sighing. I will use this interruption to make myself more presentable... Letting the reins go, she brushed her loose hair with her fingers. Part of it was sticking to her skull, the other part seemed to have transformed into a bushy mass. Not really the image of a future Aes Sedai, she commented for herself. Myrrhi knew that she shouldn’t have let go of the reins, but Elessar was not around. Moreover she wanted to look nice, if not pretty. Annoyed and bored, she started to hum. I hope the man will be done with whatever he’s doing and that he will leave us alone soon…


A frightening sound made the Accepted grab the reins with her left hand. She turned around the mare, hoping to discover its source. Is there another man here? Is it an ambush? She wondered. From were she stood, she could see something close, right behind the bushes on her right. She bent trying to have a better look, not daring to open herself to Saidar to improve her senses. She still didn’t know whether or not Moonray was accustomed to channeling and she didn’t want to scare her. The thing seemed to be scraping the earth with its feet or claws. It slowly advanced then, allowing the Accepted to see what it was…a brown and massive wild boar. The beast stopped, as if surprised by the sight of the horse and its rider.


“Ush Moonray”, Myrrhi said patting the mare, more to reassure herself than for anything else. “Let’s not move, all right?”


The boar sniffed the air tentatively. The Accepted thought about calling the Warder but she didn’t manage to move. She didn’t dare to leave the boar from her eyes and was afraid she would scare it, would she open her mouth. Stories about the animals like that flashed in her mind. Good and tough men had been heavily injured or even killed by similar tusks.


 A second passed.


Then another.


Then a third.


And then, feeling threatened, the beast charged!


Myrrhi screamed as the boar came at full speed towards her and her mount. She felt herself falling and realized that Moonray was rearing. Pulling on the reins as if her life depended on it, the Accepted tightened her legs around the horse. During fractions of seconds took what seemed to be hours, she imagined herself letting go of the mare and crashing on the ground.


She didn’t know how she did it but she managed to stay in saddle until the horse went back on her four legs. One of her hands was on the reins while she clutching Moonray’s mane with the other. Leaving no respite to the young woman who barely got the time breathe in, the mare bolted away to escape from the charging wild boar. It missed her by an inch. 


The Accepted pushed herself as low as she could, placing her head as close to the mare’s ears as she could. Doing so, she fought against the urge to pull too strongly at the reins. “Stop! Stop!” She cried out.  


With Elessar’s instructions gone from her hysterical mind, it seemed impossible for her to take back the control of the horse. Tears came to her eyes as she pictured herself at the end of her hellish journey… on the floor, with broken bones … and maybe even a broken skull.


Moonray picked a mud-track Myrrhi had never been on before. It lead her further away from the Warder and deeper in the forest, crossing a place that the Accepted would have probably appreciated under different circumstances. Her surroundings quickly changed, getting darker due to the thicker trees standing on each side of the path. The young woman let out a cry when she noticed that she would be soon getting into more trouble. The track was becoming more and more narrow. It had become barely wide enough for the galloping Moonray. Branches flapped against the poor Accepted’s arms and face. One the left side of the path, the ground was getting higher  so that it soon created an earthen wall that forced the mare to take her run on the right. On that side, though, the mud track was bordered by lower grounds in the middle of which flowed a little stream. Worse, a couple of meters away, the path bent sharply, to lead to a further bridge.


Scared that the mare would not take the turn and fall, Myrrhi opened herself to Saidar. To hell with caution! She thought as she clumsily channeled a wall of air, the One Power seeming to be the best solution to help herself. The mare reacted badly to the young woman’s channeling or maybe it was her change of position. The animal pushed itself even faster.


The young woman didn’t manage to make her net of Air threads disappear nor to lessen its effects. Moonray crashed into the wall of Air as if she had met a wall of rock. Myrrhi was thrown away because of the shock. She flew in the air for a moment… and then all went black.

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.. To Die and to Live Again ..



Stormbreaker flew like the wind along the dark mud-paved tracks along the border of the woods, with an intensily focused - and very concerned - Borderlander Warder on its back.


They were slowly gaining on Moonray and the Accepted but not by enough! Some distance in front of them Elessar saw the mare storm off the main track and head off into the forest deep. He cursed as he tried to encourage his black stallion to move even faster, using voice commands, his legs and signals as well as the horse’s reins, and Stormbreaker did pick up speed as he raced through the intersection in full gallop and stormed after the mare into the woods. They were gaining even further as they raced down the narrow forest paths and the Warder could see the other horse with the Accepted on its back not that far ahead. Elessar gained hope that they would catch the panic-stricken mount before anything dangerous happened, but just then as they flew up some tricky paths with higher ground on one side, on the left - with rocks and earth creating a kind of wall beside the narrow path - and lower ground on the right, Moonray disappeared out of view!


Cursing another time, the Gaidin pushed the stallion forwards and a few moments later he again saw the mare and the young woman ahead. He was grateful that she had not been thrown off the racing mount by now, a combination of skill and luck he presumed. He made the turn she had just passed through and then, when he was back on the straight path again, he saw that there was a stream running down below on the right hand side, bordered by steep cliffs and rocks, snaking its way into the heart of the woods. Far ahead he glimpsed a bend in the path and what looked like it could be a bridge further ahead.


Just then, it happened!


He was only thirty feet or so behind the mare when she suddenly crashed into something - he could not see what! it was not the hill or rocks, of that he was certain - and went down as if she had hit a stone boulder! Myrrhi flew through the air, stunned by the impact and the shock, off the side of the path and out of view!



Cursing inside, Elessar brought his horse to an abrupt stop behind the fallen mare and jumped off in a hurry. He disregarded whatever had caused the incident but checked quickly to see that Moonray was still alive and seemingly uninjured despite the heavy knock and shock to her system, then looked carefully over the cliff-face; it was easily eighteen to twenty feet steep, but he could see nothing down there. Then, out of the corner of his eye, he suddenly glimpsed something drifting downstream and when he looked more closely he saw what looked like the Accepted’s while dress!




He reacted instinctively. Throwing his sword aside, he ran far along the cliff-face, among the trees and brush there, watching the pull of the stream. Fortunately it was not that strong, he could see the swirling waters from his side and about fifteen feet across to the other bank, but the young woman was carried further away by the second. He ran the last bit with great strides and then as he crossed a hillock close to the water, seeing that he had overtaken the floating young woman, he dived into the stream, his body straight as an arrow, hitting the cold water smoothly.


He pushed with his legs as soon as he was under water, ignoring the coldness that crashed into him, and came up to the surface in almost no time. His eyes looked everywhere for the Accepted and finally he spotted her not that far away, a little off to his right. Kicking hard with his legs for speed he used all his strength to swim over to her and catch her in his arms, before she drifted past. He swam hard for shore and thankfully there was a spot by the cliffs with hard ground before a slope where it was possible to bring her in. Gasping from the exertion, water dripping from his hair and clothes, he carried her out of the water and placed her carefully on the ground. Her head was bruised and he saw some blood on her face; she had probably hit the cliff-face, he thought, when she had fallen from the height into the stream. He pushed some strands of wet hair tenderly away from her face, looking for further injuries.



Kneeling beside her, he checked her vital signs.


She was not breathing! Her heart had stopped!


Oh bloody hell!


Her face was deathly white and her eyes closed.. Immediately he tried to get her heart going, pulling the front of her soaked dress to the side and pressing down on her chest in a regular rhythm, as he breathed air into her mouth.


No response!


He repeated the procedure several times, listening for her heartbeat at given intervals, so focused on the task that he did not have time to panic or grieve.


Inside though, anger and concern mingled and made him almost want to scream.


Still no response from her!


He kept at what he was doing fastidiously though. Part of Warder-training, it was something which he had had vital use of before. Another young woman, a Borderlander wench that they had come across on one of their missions, having fallen into a river in Saldaea, many years before, had been saved in the same fashion. Elessar remembered it well.


Everyone had thought her dead, but he had not given up - and she had survived; brought back from the Darkness of death to the Light of life.



He pushed at her chest with his palm in the prescribed way and breathed more air into her lungs..


And finally-




-after what felt like an eternity.., there was a faint heartbeat, her eyes came slowly alive and she took a first hoarse breath..


…she then coughed hard and water spewed out of her mouth from her lungs as he placed her on her side. Her heart beat stronger now, pushing essential life-blood around her weakened body.


His relief was palpable.. and joy came unbidden into his eyes.


Thank the heavens!


She kept on coughing and once she had emptied herself  she looked about her with wide, uncertain eyes. Covering up the front of her dress, she then saw him. Recognizing his familiar face, a worn but glad smile came upon her lips. Impulsively, without thinking, he clasped his arms around her and hugged her to him, speaking encouragingly to her. She held onto him, wetness in her eyes, feeling warm and safe in his arms. Then, after a few moments, he realized what he was doing and - feeling slightly embarassed - he pulled away from her, giving her a sheepish smile.


"I am glad that you are back.. and safe," he said, not without emotion, handing her his Warder’s fancloak. Though soaked he hoped it would give her a little added insulation - a little added warmth - against the cold. She wrapped it gratefully around herself as he turned away, looking up the cliff-face and at the trees far above. "That was a close call. Too close..", he mumbled softly as he tried to look everywhere but at her. He could not tell if she heard his words.



Too close by far. He thought with great consternation, as he brushed sweat - which had mingled with stream water - from his face and palms. Shivers still ran down his back. And I am the one to blame. His eyes tightened and his mood darkened, as the swirling waters of the wood stream continued to flow unrelentingly past them. The responsibility was mine.



A colourful bird - red, green and white - of some size flying low below the treetops atop the cliff caught his attention then. It appeared to move as if in a dance, exuberant in its joyous flight. As it floated in the air, caught in the growing breeze, warmed by the embracing rays from the golden sun, it sang jubilantly. He watched it for a while, and then he understood. Pushing his darker thoughts to the side for the moment, the Gaidin smiled.


It was a Celebration of Life.




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Myrrhi opened her eyes. Wh..., she didn't have the time to think further, as something suddenly pushed its way through her throat. She coughed and water spewed out of her mouth. It hurts so much... The young woman felt that someone was gently holding her on her side so that she would not roll on her back. Crossing her arms as if to hug herself, she tried to fight the urge to close her eyes and to return to the darkness she had escaped. Fatigue was calling to her but she knew she shouldn't sleep. She had to stay awake. So, she decided to concentrate on the images that passed through her mind but none made sense to her.


A warm hand touched the side of her throat to feel her heart beat. She let the hand do its work without reacting. Then, more water came out.


Pain seemed to have invaded her whole body. She knew she was bruised, cut in some places, even. Her chest felt like hell, her throat was not better nor her head. When the coughing subsided, she turned her head to look around, her eyes wide and shivering. She didn't recognize the scenery and panic would have filled her heart if her gaze had not fallen on Elessar. He was there, on his knees just next to her, drenched from head to toe. The relief on his face made him look younger, more handsome in a way. There was no trace of the serious teacher in him anymore. Tears welled up in the Accepted eyes.


Before she had the time to tell the Warder how happy she was to see him, Elessar took her in his muscular arms.


Myrrhi lost herself in his embrace. She concentrated on his musky smell that the forest and the stream had not managed to hide, a smell that had come familiar to her and that - she only noticed it now - made her feel safe. Slowly her body started to relax. Eyes closed, she thought back about how happy he had seemed to be when she had come back to herself. He saved me... She thought tightening her hands on the Warder's shoulders. For a while, the young woman held on to the him, not wanting nor daring to let him go.


Suddenly, he pulled back. He gave a sheepish smile, then stood up. "I am glad you are back... and safe," he told her smiling kindly before handing the young woman his cloak. Myrrhi took it with trembling hands, nodding in thanks. She pulled it around her shoulders and felt her cheeks reddening.


Looking up, she saw the Warder had turned away. He was now looking up the cliff-face. Should I be happy that he doesn't see me? She wondered as she started to cry. He is probably angry at me. I have acted like a goose-headed idiot. The accident had completely come back to her memory. Now that she wasn't on the back of a galloping Moonray she understood that what she had done was utter madness. What have I been thinking? ... The Accepted bit her lower lip. And what am I thinking now? I should be apologizing for my behaviour instead of looking at my teacher as if he was a beau who would be inviting me to a ball. I tell him how sorry I am... Then, when I am back to the Tower, I should probably ask Valeri Sedai for some penance ... The Accepted added, not knowing if the penance would be for placing herself, the horses and the Gaidin into danger or for having thoughts which should belong to a fully raised Sister of the Green Ajah.


Taking a couple of seconds to summoning what was left of her strength, she tried to get back up on her feet. Her legs quivered and she collapsed back on the floor, letting go a loud curse. The Warder immediately turned the head and dove to scoop her in his arms.


"Moonray, where is Moonray?" she asked, trying not to look at Elessar. Fear and guilt made foxes appear in her stomach. The Accepted knew that she would not forgive herself if something bad had happened to the mare.





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.. Returning from the Stream to the Horses  ..



Elessar turned abruptly when he heard Myrrhi’s curse as she fell back onto the ground. He saw her quivering legs and her position and understood that she had attempted to get to her feet, but without success. "After what you have been through, you are too weak to stand now", said the Gaidin with empathy in his voice, as he almost dove to scoop her in his arms. "Just rest your head against my shoulder", he said, "and I will carry you back." He deliberately did not say anymore about what had happened. She was already weak in body and spirit from the tough ordeal, and he was concerned that telling her in detail now what had happened might make things worse. He would tell her later, when she had collected herself, unless she figured it out by herself before that.


As he began to look for a path to climb the cliff, the Accepted spoke. "Moonray, where is Moonray?" she asked, trying not to look at Elessar. 


There was undisguised concern in her voice. "The horses are fine", he replied kindly. "They are a little way further up the cliffs, on a rise", he added, indicating a somewhat northerly direction. "You will meet her soon." She smiled in reply. He spotted a path in the rocks that lead upwards in the cliffs and headed that way, leaving the stream behind. The path looked a little rough, from what the Warder could see, with a few places here and there with poor foothold, but he thought it could be traversed safely. Carrying her weight made it a little harder, of course, and he was a little weaker than normal after the exertion in - and by - the stream, but he was a strong man, well trained and would manage. "We just have to get up this cliff", he said as he started on the upward path, "but just rest and hold on to me and we will be up in no time." She nodded gratefully into his shoulder, feeling tired. Half-way up Elessar slipped slightly and had to correct his step; there was no danger of falling, but he breathed more easily once he had reached the top. He placed the Accepted carefully on the ground and sat down beside her, taking a moment to rest.



Looking into her blue eyes, he thought he saw wariness and emotion.. and was there also a touch of self-condemnation? Did she, perhaps, feel some guilt for what had happened? Or that she would be blamed somehow? He was at fault, he felt certain of that. He did not deserve all the blame, of course - circumstances had indeed played a part - but the fact remained that she had been his responsibility, and he did not want her to feel useless guilt herself. This was difficult enough as it was for her. Facing her earnestly, he said, "I am sorry, Myrrhi Morrigen. The fault was mine." She seemed surprised by his words and was about to protest but he forestalled her. "I am responsible for you in these lessons. I should not have left you alone, and headed off to see that stranger. Don’t feel any guilt yourself".


His face was serious and she could see that he meant every word. She seemed about to say something, but then changed her mind. He nodded, trying to push the guilt he felt away for the moment. "Oki, let’s head back to our mounts", he added then, as he picked her up and carried her in his arms once again and walked steadily along the cliff-side, underneath the trees there, toward the horses. He walked in silence, lost in his own thoughts, and the Accepted seemed almost to drowse in his arms. After a while he passed familiar trees and more cliffs until he finally saw Stormbreaker in the distance. He did not see the mare, but he presumed she would be nearby.


Walking up to his black stallion he lay Myrrhi carefully on the ground, placing her back against a flat rock. He met her eyes, as if asking how she was, and she nodded that she was fine. Nodding back, smiling, he checked on Moonray - who stood a little further to the side - who had gotten that knock before. She appeared to be fine and nuzzled his hands. He went over her thoroughly though, checking her legs, side and head to ensure she had no injuries. Looking at the mare made him think again on what had happened to her and to the young woman to cause the incident.. perhaps the Accepted could explain.. but it was not important at that moment as he saw it. He patted the mare caringly on the side and on the nose and then did the same with his warhorse who seemed equally pleased to see him. Returning to Myrrhi where she lay, he said reassuringly, "The Horses are fine. Moonray received a knock.. but she seems quite oki." He smiled and the young woman smiled back, relieved to hear that Moonray was well.



Elessar collected his sword from where he had thrown it aside and while Myrrhi lay resting he remained vigilant, walking a bit, checking that the area was safe from danger. He knew that there were wild animals here in the deep of the woods that could cause some concern, though they would likely be more active at night. Even so, he did not want to take any chances - especially after what had just happened. When he was satisfied that no threats were imminent, he tethered the horses to a nearby tree, gave them each a carrot from his saddlebag, and sat down beside the Accepted, closing his eyes. Soon his thoughts darkened again. Valeri Sedai will certainly have my hide for this debacle, he thought dismally. She will have me whipped in front of the entire Tower for almost getting her Accepted killed.


Be that as it may, he was just as concerned that this disaster - as it would be viewed by the infamous Mistress of Novices - might have some unfair, negative repercussions on the Accepted as well. So the best solution for all concerned would simply be to keep it a secret, he thought grimly to himself, knowing it would be very difficult to do so in practice, and also very unsure if it would in fact be right to do so in the first place. Pushing his many concerns aside for the moment, he relaxed his breathing and felt calmness gradually enveloping him. He now felt the tiredness he had kept at bay sweeping over him and entered the ‘half-sleep, half-awake‘state of mind that Warders were so adept at, whereby he rested but was at the same time partially aware of the world around him.


The afternoon-sun shone down on them from a sapphire-blue sky, a soft breeze blowing gently through the nearby trees, there they rested above the cliffs and the stream, on a small elevation in the heart of the woods, on the mainland west of Tar Valon.




Edited by Elessar
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The young woman’s heart skipped a beat when she heard that the horses were fine. Some of her guilt went away. Not all of it though… Elessar pointed upriver, then told her that they would meet Moonray soon and Myrrhi smiled. She loved the horse as a friend.


“I shouldn’t have tried to stand so early,” she apologized with a voice so low that her words came out as a whisper. Now that the Warder had come closer to her, she found it hard to talk.


She let the Warder guide her up a rocky path that led them back to the mud-track. They advanced one step at a time, Myrrhi tripping every now and then. She tried to keep her eyes open but it was hard to focus. She felt herself losing consciousness a couple of times, reality disappearing for fractions of a second.


The place was lovely, Myrrhi surprised herself by thinking that she wanted to come back later. It didn’t have the neatness of the gardens she had seen so far in Andor or on the Tower grounds but, everything, wild as it was, seemed to be in perfect harmony. The crystalline waters of the stream - beautiful and dangerous at the same time - were a fantastic sight. The same could be said of the trees. They were old, judging by the thickness of their trunks and spaced so that they left enough room for flowery bushes to grow between them. Here and there a couple more touches of color appeared in the shape of lonely butterflies. The young woman sighed, hoping she would be allowed to leave the tower again after this morning's unfortunate adventures.


After what seemed to be ages - or maybe only a couple of seconds, the Accepted didn’t know having lost all sense of time – they reached the mud-track. The Warder helped her to settle herself on the ground, so that she could rest a bit. Their eyes met and they stayed silent for a while, trying to read each other's face.


“I am sorry, Myrrhi Morrigen. The fault was mine,” said Elessar, his face becoming darker. The Accepted raised a hand to place it on his arm, ready to protest. He forestalled her. “I am responsible for you in these lessons. I should not have left you alone, and headed off to see that stranger. Don’t feel any guilt yourself,” he added.

The young woman bit her lip. She had not expected this. She had thought he would be angry… she even wanted him to be angry. She had made a mistake and had to pay for it. It was not fair for the Warder to feel guilt. She opened her mouth to explain her point of view then closed it, hesitating. She needed to find a way to tell him how she felt, but she couldn’t do it like that. She had to measure her words. It was time for her to grow up and behave like the future Aes Sedai she wanted to be.


Elessar picked her up, inviting her to head back to the mounts. Panic suddenly rushed over her. What if Moonray hated her now? Would she, Myrrhi, be able to climb back on a horse? It was hard to tell. Again they advanced silently. The young woman didn’t fare better. As she tried to concentrate on what she should tell the warder, she felt herself drowsing again.


Stormbreaker was the first horse she saw. Moonray seemed to be hiding herself behind a clump of trees further away. Myrrhi looked at her, eyes wide with worry. She didn’t dare to approach the mare. It was too soon. And, so she followed the Warder's lead and settled herself, with his help, on the ground her back against a flat rock.


It was only when he saw that she was sitting comfortably that Elessar asked Myrrhi how she was feeling. The young woman replied that she was fine, not wanting to worry him further. With a wave of the hand, she showed him that he could leave her for a while. Indeed, the Warder seemed to want to check on the mare.


Seeing his gestures and the way he smiled when he came back, Myrrhi understood that the mare was fine. Relieved, she allowed herself to drift away.



Time passed. The Warder went to gather his things then fed the horses a couple of carrots while the Accepted rested. When she woke up, she saw Elessar was sitting next to her, a scowl on his face.


“It is not your fault," she said. "It is mine and mine only". It was the Warder’s turn to try to protest but she didn’t leave him the opportunity to react, going further with what she had to say.


"You see this bend on the road," she pointed at it. "The path is all straight before reaching it. I thought that Moonray would not see the bend, that she would fall in the stream on the other side of it. All I wanted to do was to protect her. So I channeled threads of Air. I was panicking so much that I didn’t focus enough. Instead of making a large cushion to prevent her from falling, I made a hard wall … and she crashed into it.  There’s nothing you could have done against my own stupidity. I will tell the Mistress of the Novices what happened and I will let her punish me for it."


She marked a pause, then went on "... and if you want to add to her punishment, I will understand."


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.. When the End justifies the Means ..



His thoughts were dark, mulling over his concerns. She must have seen his expression because she looked at him and spoke. “It is not your fault," she said. "It is mine and mine only". He tried to protest, having feared that she would take the blame upon herself, but she didn’t leave him the opportunity to react, going further with what she had to say.


She pointed at a bend in the road, saying that the path is all straight before reaching it. She then added that she had thought that Moonray would not see the bend, that she would fall in the stream on the other side of it. All she had wanted to do was to protect her. So she had channeled threads of Air. She claimed that she had been panicking so much that she had not focused enough and instead of making a large cushion to prevent the horse from falling she had made a hard wall.. and Moonray had crashed straight into it.


"There’s nothing you could have done against my own stupidity." She said. "I will tell the Mistress of the Novices what happened and I will let her punish me for it."


She marked a pause, then added.. that if he wanted to add to her punishment, she would understand.


He sighed inwardly, understanding that it would be difficult to make her change her mind. He thought he recognized a stubborn, some might say ‘muleheaded’, streak in her, not that dissimilar from what he had seen in Leandreen. It was a common trait in most Aes Sedai when he came to think of it. He grinned inwardly. Not that he would ever say so to a Sister’s face, of course. Not unless he knew her very well, at least. Perhaps not even then. Back to the matter at hand, Elessar. Myrrhi. What to do? He had to change her mind somehow. The more he had considered it, the more he had come to the conclusion that it was best for all concerned - and especially for the Accepted herself - to keep this whole debacle a secret. It was not morally and ethically correct perhaps, but he was certain that it was necessary in this case. His own probable punishment was not foremost in his mind, however. Rather, he was thinking of the young woman. Not keeping it a secret, would likely have negative consequences for the Accepted, he feared, and he did not want to have this unfortunate incident spoil her advancement and all the hard work she had put in over the years, in her sincere attempt to become a full Sister. Deep inside he had to admit that he also wanted to avoid the guilt he would feel if she were to get into trouble and difficulties as a result of this.


But how to make her see the wisdom of it.. he wondered, as he took his time replying to her. She would definetly need some convincing..



Giving her a steady and firm look, he considered his words carefully. "I understand that you feel some guilt", he began. "Very understandable. But if you think about it, you could not foresee the consequences of your action. You only wanted to protect your horse, after all." He nodded. "I still think you are a little hard on yourself", he added, "since all this wouldn’t have happened in the first place if I had stayed with you as I should have done." He paused momentarily before he added, "Done is done, however. Come what may, though," he said, and his voice became slightly more forceful, "..I think.. we should keep all that’s happened a secret." Her eyes widened with surprise and disapproval. "I know", he said, forestalling her protest, "I am not either a fan of lies or deceit. But let me explain." He went on quickly before she could put in a word. "From what you have told me, there will be negative repercussions when the Mistress of Novices gets hold of you." The Warder said. "Is it right that this unfortunate incident, which ended well for all concerned, should be held against you?" He added. "Knowing her as you do, do you really think Valeri Sedai will let you out of her sight for the next year or two?"


He spoke emphatically, believing that he had to argue vigorously for her to agree. She obviously felt strongly that she deserved whatever punishment she would have to face and wanted to do penance. "You probably won’t be allowed outside the Tower until you are raised, you know." He added categorically. "And how much longer will you have to wait for that to happen, how much will your raising be delayed do you think, if they deem you irresponsible?" If they believe you are still a child? he thought.



He knew he was, perhaps, pushing it a bit, but frankly he saw no other way of convincing her. From the little he knew, the Aes Sedai might very well postpone her raising by quite some time if they deemed it necessary. Leandreen, though secretive in most Aes Sedai matters, had years ago hinted to him that no Accepted was allowed to test for the Shawl until the Aes Sedai deemed the woman ready, in strength as well as maturity. Myrrhi still looked somewhat doubtful, or at least that was his impression, but she appeared to listen attentively to what he said.


He looked deeply into her eyes, hoping his forceful words were making an impression on her.


"As for me",  he said, "when she hears what happened, Valeri Sedai will probably have me whipped in front of the entire Tower for almost getting her Accepted killed". His tone was wry, almost as if he did not care about his probable punishment. "I’ll be glad when it is done, it will not be my finest hour, but I’ll survive", said the Gaidin as-a-matter-of-factly. "I am alas more concerned how this may damage your standing as Accepted in the Tower - and your important advancement and future prospects."



He did not say any more, but looked away for a moment, waiting for her to reply. She did not do so immediately but seemed to have a pensive look on her face, as if she were mulling over all that he had said.


In the silence, he added more softly, "And if you do wish to do penance, if you feel that is something you have to do, you can do so privately." He said. "I certainly intend to", he added, "to atone a little for my guilt in this whole sad affair ."


He carried enough guilt around for several people, he knew, but was as ever unable to forgive himself for his failures. Leandreen. Her emerald eyes, echoing in his mind, made him almost cringe. He tried to put on a smile for the young woman though, hiding the darkness upon his soul. Forgive me, Leandreen. I promised you, my life before yours. Please forgive me. His hands clenched and unclenched involuntarily as he tried to gain control of himself. Slowly, gradually, he calmed himself and pushed his dark thoughts aside, focusing on the young woman again.


He waited for her to speak, trying to read her expression, hoping she would see the sense in his arguments.




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Myrrhi was felt the weight of Elessar's steady and firm look on her. He waited a bit before talking, leaving her the time to wonder what his state of mind was. "I understand that you feel some guilt", he started. "Very understandable. But if you think about it, you could not foresee the consequences of your action. You only wanted to protect your horse, after all." He nodded, made a small pause, then went on. "I still think you are a little hard on yourself, since all this wouldn’t have happened in the first place if I had stayed with you as I should have done."


The young woman sighed at turned her head. Elessar seemed to want to protect her and she didn't agree with that.


"Done is done, however. Come what may, though," he added with a voice slightly more forceful, "..I think.. we should keep all that’s happened a secret."


Would the Accepted have the strength to do it, she would have jump on her feet. What the... is he thinking? Eyes wide, she ready herself to comment on Elessar's proposal. She was stopped by one of his fingers placed on her lips with determination. "I know", he said, "I am not either a fan of lies or deceit. But let me explain. From what you have told me, there will be negative repercussions when the Mistress of Novices gets hold of you. Is it right that this unfortunate incident, which ended well for all concerned, should be held against you? Knowing her as you do, do you really think Valeri Sedai will let you out of her sight for the next year or two?"


Biting in the Warder's finger looked tempting but Myrrhi, trying once more to behave like an Accepted, managed to master herself not to go that far. She let him finish his tirade.


"You probably won’t be allowed outside the Tower until you are raised, you know. And how much longer will you have to wait for that to happen, how much will your raising be delayed do you think, if they deem you irresponsible?"


I know that very well, thought the Accepted biting her lip, her eyes shooting lightnings. But fair is fair! Mastering her anger, she let the Warder go forward.


Now it was Elessar's turn to open his eyes wide.


"I am a failure at riding, and I will live with it." This said, she brushed her hair into place with her hand. "You were a perfect teacher, and you will have to live with it too."


"As for me, when she hears what happened, Valeri Sedai will probably have me whipped in front of the entire Tower for almost getting her Accepted killed. I'll be glad when it is done, it will not be my finest hour, but I’ll survive. I am alas more concerned how this may damage your standing as Accepted in the Tower - and your important advancement and future prospects."


The first part of his last speech hit her hard. She imagined Elessar strapped in the Warder's courtyard to be whipped in front of everyone. Tears came to her eyes. He didn't deserve it, the man had been exceptionally kind with her. She swore to herself that she would never let that happen.


They stayed silent for a little while. Myrrhi jumped on the occasion to prepare her next reply. She wanted to do penance, it was important to her, but the Warder had to stay out of it.


"And if you do wish to do penance, if you feel that is something you have to do, you can do so privately." He finally said. "I certainly intend to ... to atone a little for my guilt in this whole sad affair ."


"Don't you dare!" she said, pointing a finger at Elessar. She stepped closer to him so that her nose was almost touching his. "You know perfectly well that I can explain things to spare you... even if I don't see what you have to do with anything. I was the one who was stupid enough to channel and to hurt the horse."


Gathering her courage, she went on, forgetting that the Warder was her senior, her teacher.


"You'd better not get whipped," she said "or I will make you pay for it. If I have to stay in the Tower 'till my raising, and if my raising is postponed, then I will have to accept it."


She took a break, using the time to brush her hair with her fingers. Then, she put herself on the tip of her toes to reach Elessar's height. It was an impossible thing to achieve, but still - she thought that an inch or two would help her here.


"And," she went on. "You have been perfect teacher. So you will have to live with that too."


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.. To Deal with Stubbornness in Women ..



Damn stubborn woman!


Elessar swore inside. His outward expression was neutral though, revealing none of his inner feelings, as if he were considering her words carefully. He had believed that he had her convinced, that his arguments had been strong enough for her to concede, but he had apparently underestimated this young Andoran woman. She is ‘muleheaded’ enough with the best of them! He smiled at her, taking a step back, and placed his hand placatingly on her shoulder. "Let’s have an apple", he said kindly, moving across to the saddlebag. "I brought a couple for us, in addition to some for Moonray and Stormbreaker. I find that sustenance often clears the mind." Handing her a Green apple, he gave a red one to each of the horses. He took a Green one for himself as well and ate it slowly, thinking hard about the situation at hand. They sat down with their backs to the flat rock and ate in silence.



Not only is she stubborn, he thought adamantly, she is foolish as well!


When she had spouted that rubbish about her being a failure at riding and all, his eyes had widened in disbelief and he had wanted to correct her. But he had not gotten a word in. Considering that she had only been learning how to ride for less than two weeks, he believed she was progressing nicely. It took many months, years maybe, to become an expert rider, and she was still a novice in that regard, but he would not let her belittle herself in that way. Several coincidences and ill-fated factors had added up to the disaster; it was not a result of her poor riding skills as she insinuated.


Then she had reacted badly when he had mentioned that he probably would be whipped by the Mistress of Novices for his role in almost getting the young woman killed. The punishment would, possibly, be less severe, of course, but he thought it might very well be hard, and that Valeri Sedai could be tempted to make an example of him. "Don't you dare!" she had said, pointing a finger at him. She had stepped very close to him and had admonished him, as if he were her pupil, saying that he knew perfectly well that she could explain things to spare him.. even if she still thought that she was the one to blame.


But she had not stopped there. With force in her voice she had told him that he better not get whipped or she would make him pay for it. If she had to stay in the Tower ‘till her raising, and if that raising was postponed, then she would have to accept it. She had added that he had been the perfect teacher, but he would have to live with that too.



Bloody stubborn indeed!


Leandreen had been the same on several occasions, he recalled. Oh indeed!


He remembered one time, on a mission in Shienar many years before, when she had refused to do as he advised, to remain safely behind while he scouted a particularly dangerous terrain some miles south of the city and capital of Fal Moran. They had been hunting a small band of Darkfriends for the Tower and Elessar and several other Warders had been about to scout a hill-top nearby, close to where they thought the Darkfriends were hiding, when Leandreen - and two other Green Sisters - had insisted on joining them. Elessar had cursed inwardly, not wanting to oppose his Aes Sedai and bondholder openly, and later, when they had been on their own, he had certainly spoken his mind. Foolish woman! She had not been best pleased by his reaction, even if she knew that he probably had been right in urging caution, and they had hardly spoken for the next few days..


Oh Leandreen, he thought with emotion. How do I handle this young, ‘muleheaded’ woman? I only want what is best for her, after all. Will she not see that?


Frustrated as he was with her, he was very tempted to argue hard and tell her that he did not suffer fools lightly, tell her to see sense and stop being so ‘muleheaded’. But deep inside he knew that that would likely not be very fruitful, and not very professional of him, and so in the end he decided to go for honesty and sincerity instead.


So be it.



Casting what little remained of the apple aside, Elessar swiftly got to his feet. Looking down on the young woman, he frowned. "Now then, as to what happened a short while ago.. " He began. "You seem to have forgotten your manners - and the respect you should show your Elders, Accepted Myrrhi Morrigen! " Said the Warder and teacher in a serious tone. She blushed slightly as he continued. "You put forwards your arguments with vigour and enthusiasm, which is good, but keep that in mind for the future."


Studying her somewhat contrite expression, he considered his next words carefully. "I have given you what advice I can on this matter. If you do not see the sense, the wisdom, in what I am saying - all of which is for your own good by the way - then that is your choice and I must respect that." He said earnestly. "In that case, however, I can no longer be your teacher."


It was a question of trust and judgment. And he would not stand by and watch her damage her standing, her advancement, her reputation and future prospects in the Tower, even if in this case it were, theoretically, the honest - truthful - thing to do. It would be a constant reminder of his failure.


Without another word he walked across to Stormbreaker, a somber look in his eyes, and did not see the young woman’s facial expression and reaction. Untethering the black stallion, the Gaidin brushed the horse’s coat using a comb from his saddlebag and then patted him caringly on the side and on the nose. The mount nuzzled his hands, enjoying the treatment.


Turning towards the Accepted at last, he said in a steadfast voice, "Let us return to Tar Valon." He added. "Your lessons with me are at an end."




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Myrrhi took a big bite in her apple. She was not hungry but she wanted to be done eating the fruit as soon as possible. When the Warder had “invited her” to have an apple, she had found herself lost for words. Was he agreeing with her? It was hard to tell. He had been smiling when he had offered her the fruit. Then, they had sat down in silence, side by side, on the flat stone that had supported the young woman’s back a couple of minutes ago.


The Accepted looked at the horses. Moonray seemed a bit shy in comparison with her usual self, but not injured. The idea to use her healing skills on the mare flashed through Myrrhi’s mind. It is probably a bad idea, though, she thought. I have never healed anyone and what I learned was for humans only, I guess. She sighed. The silence was ominous. She needed to know what the Warder was thinking. Everything she had said had been the truth. She didn’t want Elessar to suffer for her mistakes and she wanted to find a way to do penance.


Suddenly, the Warder got on his feet, throwing at the same time the core of his apple towards the trees. The woman let hers fall on the ground. She met his eyes, waiting for him to talk.  


"Now then, as to what happened a short while ago…, " he began. "You seem to have forgotten your manners - and the respect you should show your Elders, Accepted Myrrhi Morrigen! "


The Accepted felt fire climbing up her cheeks. She swallowed down her anger, thinking that Elessar’s last words could be a way for him to show that, even if he was not happy with the way she had talked, he still believed that the best way to act was the one she had described.


She let the Warder go on. "I have given you what advice I can on this matter. If you do not see the sense, the wisdom, in what I am saying - all of which is for your own good by the way - then that is your choice and I must respect that." He made a pause, then added "In that case, however, I can no longer be your teacher."


Tears came to Myrrhi’s eyes. She felt as if the world was crumbling down from under her feet. Elessar, not being her teacher anymore? It seemed so strange to her. She bit on her lower lip and looked at her feet, trying to fight the urge to voice what she thought of the idea. It took her a while to come back to her sense.


Well, she thought at last, there’re not many days to go with those riding lessons and I don’t expect to be allowed to have more lessons after reporting to Valeri Sedai... Still, she was hurt. Not because of the prospect of having to stay within the Tower walls but because of the way the Warder had talked, the way he had showed her he didn’t mind leaving her.


Without another word, he joined Stormbreaker, to untether the horse. The Accepted couldn’t see his face nor could the Warder see hers. It is a good thing … , she told herself as she felt her cheeks getting wet.


Elessar took the time to brush his stallion and to pat him on the nose, leaving Myrrhi to her own thoughts. What am I going to do? For a second, she thought that Elessar had been trying to find a way to get rid of her for a long time and had jumped on this occasion to free himself from the classes.


I can't erase all the good time we had together, she counter argued shaking her head.


Full of hurt pride, she then imagined herself leaving the place on her own, head high, with the Warder catching up with her after a couple of steps. In her head, the Warder placed a hand on her shoulder before asking asked her what she was doing, his face full of emotion. “Well…, she replied. “You are no longer my teacher, I don’t have to follow you anymore…” The idea had some appeal but as an Accepted she knew she still had to follow the orders of her elders. And so she forgot about it.


Elessar finally turned towards the Accepted"Let us return to Tar Valon. Your lessons with me are at an end," he said with a steadfast voice that sent chills through her bones.


« Fine, Elessar Gaidin, » she replied as she stood up. “I won’t use anymore of your time.” She curtsied as low as she could, using formalities as a wall between them.


Brushing the skirts of her dress with trembling hand, she advanced towards the mare thinking of how ridiculous she must look. Hair disheveled, dress torn, eyes red and puffy. She noticed that would the Warder want to keep this all a secret he would have to find a way to make herself look presentable.  It did look like an interesting challenge, ...


The situation still bothered her. Since her entry in the Tower, she had been taught that every mistake lead to a proportionate punishment and not the kind of punishment that you would apply to yourself. It had to be public or at least involve the Mistress of the Novices. The bigger the mistake, the bigger the punishment. Here, she knew that Valeri Sedai had disapproved of the riding lessons as well as some of the other sisters. Her sanction would be exemplary. She could even be sent away from the Tower to do penance in one of the nearing farm. Was she really ready for that? Andt, moreover she didn’t understand Elessar’s reaction. Wasn’t she brave to accept what was to come?


As she was getting Moonray ready for journey back to the Tower, she felt her resolve weaken.


“So you don’t want to be my teacher anymore,” she finally said.

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.. Explanations and Considerations ..



"Fine, Elessar Gaidin," she replied as she stood up. "I won’t use anymore of your time."


She curtsied as low as she could, and he gave her a polite nod back, as if from teacher to pupil. He noted the tone of her voice - which spoke of her disappointment - and could not avoid seeing her disheveled hair and her red and puffy eyes; she had been crying while he had cared for his horse. He sighed inwardly as she went to untether her mare. She had taken it somewhat badly, he saw. He should not have been surprised. But if he were honest with himself, he had not considered much how she might react to his pronouncement. He forgot sometimes that she was a young woman of the Tower with limited life experience who would form attachments. Well, done is done. He thought sadly, as he climbed atop his black stallion.


From atop Stormbreaker’s back he gazed at the young woman who bravely tried to put on a positive face, but he could see that she was distressed. “So you don’t want to be my teacher anymore,” she finally said, meeting his eyes. Holding onto his reins, he held the warhorse in place as he considered his reply. I will need to explain again to her, he thought. Perhaps that will make her understand. Giving her a small nod, he said, “We can talk some more while we ride.“ She untethered the mare and he signalled for her to mount her horse. She did so, without any help this time., and he smiled inwardly. Together they rode slowly up the mud-paved track in the direction of Tar Valon.



They rode for a while in silence before the Warder spoke. “I will try and explain again.“ He repeated his many arguments for keeping the whole matter a secret. “It wouldn’t come as a surprise if the Mistress of Novices comes down extra hard on you because she wants to set an example,“ he said again. “Don’t forget, she was not particularly enthusiastic about your horse riding lessons to begin with.“ He turned in the saddle and saw her nod pensively. “So however brave your action is, and were it in another situation I would praise you for your truthfulness, I think you should reconsider.“


“As for your bruises and torn dress, I would have given a ‘white lie’“, he explained, “saying that you fell off the horse during the riding lesson in the woods, making a clumsy mistake at a sudden turn in the narrow path, but that you are fine and sorry for having made such a stupid mistake. It is believable, I think, and would probably only give you a reprimand, if that.“ He nodded. “And then you could do your penance in private, like I mentioned.“


“What really happened“, he ended, “would remain a private matter between teacher and pupil.“


He hoped his face showed his sincerity.


“But as I said, the choice is yours. If you decide to keep to your truthful story, however, we must part ways. So it’s not a question of what I want - I have enjoyed our riding lessons as you have seen and would have liked to have finished them - but what simply must be. We only had a couple of lessons left in any case, most of your training has been done. “ He added. “I can have another Warder give you the last pair of lessons if you wish“, he said, “that way you will have completed the lessons in full.“ She did not reply immediately, and he presumed that she was thinking the matter through another time. They rode on in silence, their horses walking steadily northwards along the road that bordered the river.



They soon came upon the West Bridge that lead to the island city of the Aes Sedai. It was late afternoon and the weather was changing, clouds gradually filling the blue sky and partially hiding the sun. It looked like it might rain later on, Elessar thought, as they swung onto the bridge and rode slowly, leisurely across it. The Accepted seemed to be lost in thought because she did not speak much during the ride. She rode half a length behind him as had been the case from the start, seemingly in good control of Moonray.


Stormbreaker, more frisky in nature, pulled at the Warder to show that he wanted higher speed and the Gaidin had to hold him back on several occasions. Half way across they passed several local people heading out of the city toward the surrounding villages on the mainland, people going home from work, thought the Gaidin. An Andoran boy of about twelve, blond-haired and blue-eyed with worn clothes and a scruffy look, walking beside his tired-looking mother, looked eagerly and excitedly at the fearsome-looking Warder on his big warhorse as he rode past him, dreaming that one day he would become a legendary Gaidin too.


To serve and protect,

My life before yours


As they passed the end of the bridge and rode on into the city of Tar Valon, heading down one of the main streets, Myrrhi pushed her mare a little forwards so she could speak more easily with the Warder.




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The Warder explained once more why he thought it better to keep the morning's events a secret. This time, though, he took the time to emphasize the part about the Mistress of the Novices' future punishments. As if he doesn't want her to punish me too severely, Myrrhi thought. I don't understand. He can't be doing this only because he doesn't want to be punished. Elessar is one of the bravest men I know... Even if I don't know many....  The images of that night in the dark alley, where Elessar had fought against assassins, passed through her mind.


She listened to the white lie he proposed her to tell. She was supposed to explain to Valeri Sedai that she had fallen from her horse because she had been too clumsy. It was very close to the truth, Myrrhi had to admit. She sighed, then pictured the scene in her head.


Dress still torn, because she hadn't had the time to change, Myrrhi entered the Mistress of the Novices' office. Her head meekly lowered, she crossed her hands right in front of her.

"Good day to you, Valeri Sedai."

"And to you, Child." The Mistress of the Novices replied, making an impatient gesture with her hand to invite the Accepted to start her daily report without delay. The young woman obediently started but before she arrived to the incident, the Aes Sedai interrupted her.

"And what has happened to your dress?"

"All my apologies, Valeri Sedai," the young woman answered, eyes still looking at her feet. "But, this happened a little bit later. I will tell you immediately, if you want."

The Mistress of the Novices nodded. "Yes, Child. I very much want to."

Gathering her courage, the Accepted made a jump into her story. To be sure that the Mistress of the Novices wouldn't want to inquire further, she raised her head so she could meet the Aes Sedai's gaze and went over every little detail of the tale she had repeated in her head.

After a long pause and without making any comment about the Accepted clumsiness, the Aes Sedai asked her to go back to where she had left her initial report.

The Accepted curtsied and did as she was told. When she reached the time of the incident, she paid attention to use different words than the ones she had used the first time - hoping it would hide the white lie.

"Fine, Myrrhi Morrigen. I am sending you to the kitchen until the middle of the afternoon. I hope you won't be late for your lesson with Andrea Sedai", said the Mistress of the Novice, her face emotionless.

"Of course," replied the Accepted trying to look disappointed. "I will do as you asked."


Now that she envisioned the conversation, the idea to stay silent about her unfortunate channeling didn't look so bad. She would still be punished... and, if she wanted, she would still be able to do extra penance on her own. However, she didn't know how she would do it. To hurt herself seemed to be a very strange idea and bruises would show on her body. To deprive herself of something looked even weirder. She owned nothing and the only activity she did outside her lessons was to study.


Elessar's voice brought her back to the reality. "I can have another Warder give you the last pair of lessons if you wish, that way you will have completed the lessons in full," he said turning in his saddle to see if she was listening.

The young woman blushed. Some sentences had been completely lost to her.


When they arrived at the West Bridge, Myrrhi felt her heart beating faster. Whatever she'd decide, she'd have to do it soon. The Warder would surely want to know before they would part.


Other lessons with another Warder would never happen. She was sure of it. Would she tell the truth to Valeri Sedai, she would not be allowed to go forward with her riding classes. So the two paths ahead are these : either I follow my teacher's advises and I will see him tomorrow, or I will be locked up in the Tower..... The young woman sighed and spent some time thinking about what she wanted to see happening next.


The flaming man knows how to manipulate me, she finally said to herself, cursing.


Taking a deep breath, she pushed her mare a little forwards, so she could talk to the Warder. Immediately, as he sensed her approaching he turned the head, with a raised eyebrow, probably wondering what she was going to say.


"Elessar Gaidin," she began using a more formal tone. "If I decide to follow your advice, and I am not saying I will...nor that I won't" she added after a time. 'But...  What would be the private penance you would have me do?"


She brushed some of her hair into place and waited for his answer.

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.. The suitable Choice of a private Penance ..



 "Elessar Gaidin," she began using a more formal tone. "If I decide to follow your advice, and I am not saying I will...not that I won't" she added after a time. 'But...  What would be the private penance you would have me do?" She brushed some of her hair into place and waited for his answer.


He looked at her and took his time answering. He was surprised by her question, wondering why she asked his advice on what private penance she ought to do? She is certainly focused - fixated -  on penance. He thought as he mulled the matter over in his mind. It must be something the Aes Sedai have emphasized in her training. Personally he did not believe she needed to do penance at all for what had happened. It had been misfortune, a mistake, and as he had said several times he was at least as much, if not more, to blame. However, he understood from her reaction that she needed to do some private penance, she would not agree to anything without it, and so he considered the options.


Also, it seemed from her words that his arguments were making her reconsider whether to follow his advice and keep it all a secret, even if she had not fully decided yet, and for that he was pleased. Now then, he wondered, what would be the right private penance for you, young lady? Not too hard a ‘punishment’ but still severe enough, something that you will consider a proper penance..



They rode down one of the main streets of the city, past shops and vendors, locals and foreigners, a few carriages with horses, inns and bars and similar establishments, in the direction of the Tower stables, as the Warder considered possible answers to her question. More clouds drifted in from the north-west, almost blanketing the former blue sky. The wind was also picking up. Turning slightly in his saddle to look at the Accepted, who had fallen back with Moonray while she waited for his reply, Elessar gave a perceptible nod. Myrrhi pushed the mare a little forwards so she rode parallell to him. “I have thought about it and this is my proposal.“ He began carefully. “I propose that as your private penance you should do hard physical exercize every day for a month. Where, when and how is up to you, just make sure it is really exhausting.“


He guessed that few, if any, young ladies of the Tower enjoyed hard exercize - though it naturally would help build physical endurance - and with their having a tight schedule with classes, training and chores it would be an added challenge for her to find enough time for it. He considered it an apt - a suitable - ‘punishment’ or atonement for her, but did, of course, not know how she would take it. The Accepted did not give a reply right away but kept on riding, a pensive, considering look in her eyes. The Warder gave her time to make up her mind, as he lead Stormbreaker up one street and down an other, steadily coming closer to their destination.



They passed several of the city’s famous sights. ‘The Great Fish Market’, the largest fish market in Tar Valon, Ogier-constructed and impressive, it resembled a school of multi-coloured fish swimming. ‘Kandori Merchant’s Guild Hall’, antother great Ogier-construct, which resembled horses running out of the surf. And ‘Banking House’, an Ogier-wrought wonder, a striking three story tall building that resembled a flight of golden marble birds taking wing. The many architectural wonders in the city of the Aes Sedai never ceased to amaze both local citizens and foreigner visiting. Elessar was no exception and he gazed at them appreciatively and with amazement as they rode slowly past. It made him think of Tar Valon’s fascinating history, a history that was also filled with wonders..


According to the history books, he recalled, construction of the city began in 98 AB. In that year Elisane Tishar was chosen as the first Amyrlin Seat. The construction work was undertaken by Ogier stonemasons assisted by Aes Sedai Sisters using the One Power to create buildings stronger and taller than otherwise would be possible. The city of Tar Valon was completed in 202 AB after more than a century of continuous effort. By this time the power and prestige of the Aes Sedai had grown to impressive levels and one of their number, Queen Mabriam en Shereed of Aramaelle led the diplomacy that resulted in the signing of the Compact of the Ten Nations, binding all the Westlands together in mutual support and alliance..



The Warder and the Accepted finally entered the Tower grounds and reached the stables and left their mounts in the care of the young stableboys. They patted their horses caringly on the nose as the mounts were put in their separate stalls, Myrrhi giving Moonray an affectionate hug before she left. When they came outside, the Gaidin stopped in front of the entrance, gazing closely at the young woman. Her dress was almost dry by now, the wind having helped remove much of the moisture, but her facial bruises needed some tending. Even so, after what she had been through she looked remarkably well.


“It is time to make your decision, Accepted Myrrhi Morrigen.“ He said firmly, meeting her eyes squarely but not unkindly, placing his hand on her shoulder. “What have you decided on?“




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Myrrhi almost chocked on her saliva when she heard Elessar’s proposal. She didn’t know whether she had to be happy about it or not. Hard physical exercise… she frowned. What a strange idea….


She had never done anything like physical exercise before. As a young girl, before entering the Tower, she had stayed at home for the best part of her days to do chores and to take care of her sisters. Sometimes, her “lovely” mother had ordered her to bring packages or parcels to her customers but that had not been the kind of activity that would have helped her to improve her endurance nor her strength.


Then, as a Novice, she had stayed within the Tower walls most of the time. She had been a couple of times to Tar Valon to fetch supplies and to help Sisters when they had to visit shops. But that had not led to physical exercises either. Novices were not supposed to run nor to jump. They had to be discreet just like mice.


Her life as an Accepted had barely been different. She had more free time now – true – but she was expected to go forward with her own studies when she was not in class.


The idea had some merit though. The young woman had already thought about exercise and how it could help her in the future. If she wanted to become a Sister of the Green Ajah, she would have to be more active. A lot of Greens spent time on the road. They were good riders but they were also good fighters. The Accepted had discovered this trait after having spent a fair amount of time in the Green Quarters to mend torn clothes.


The Green Aes Sedai had not openly spoken about the training they followed, individually. Training was not supposed to be something to advertise... especially not for fully raised Sisters. But, Myrrhi had often noticed that Green Aes Sedai made everything in their power to go discreetly to the Warders Yard - to “spend time” with their Warder they sometimes said - or to invite Warders in their own apartment. When they came back to the young woman to have something repaired, the young woman couldn't help but detect the appearance of a bruise or two on the Sisters faces or strange damages to their outfits.


Elessar and Myrrhi finally entered the Tower grounds. Slowly and silently, they reached the stables. Myrrhi dismounted, still hesitant with her gestures, and patted Moonray on the nose. A stable boy led the mare and Elessar's stallion in their stalls leaving the Accepted and her teacher the time to part with their mounts. Myrrhi hugged Moonray a last time before leaving her. I so much want to see you tomorrow, the young woman thought.


It was the Warder who talked first. "it is time to make your decision, Accepted Myrrhi Morrigen," he said, placing a hand on her shoulder. "What have you decided on?"


“Very well", she said to the Warder after a while. "I have thought about everything you said. I have decided to follow your advice."


It is only when the words had gotten out of her mouth that she felt surprise at how fast she had changed her mind. She remembered the last time when she had had to admit that she had been wrong in front of others. Her pride had made her keep silent for many hours and she had barely admitted what she had to because she had had no other choice...  Now is not the time to analyze my own words, she thought, meeting the Warder's eyes. 


“I will do hard physical exercise," she said, with a sharp nod of the head. ... and you will be proud of me, she added to herself. Then an idea came to her mind. She smiled, placing her hand on Elessar's.


“But who will say that my exercises are satisfying enough? I will get tired pretty fast, but it won't mean that what I have done is hard enough. Someone needs to be sure that I am doing the right things. Would you allow me to report to you?"

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.. Lost in Dreams and Memories of the Past ..



"I think that’s a good decision, Accepted", said the Warder with an affirmative smile.


She confirmed that she would do the hard exercises, but then added that it might be difficult for herself to judge if her exercises were hard enough, and wondered if he would allow her to report to him? That way he could make sure she was doing the right things. He smiled inwardly, also noticing her hand on his. It was a fair suggestion, he did have more experience with regards to physical training and exercises after all, but it would also mean that their contact would not be entirely broken as of the end of the last lesson. It was doable, he thought, and had some merit, and he had to admit that he would enjoy keeping a track on her progress at least for the month in question. Meeting her eye, releasing her hand, he said, “No problem, you can report to me. On a weekly basis“. He added. “I can give you some suggestions as to physical exercises to try out and how far to push yourself.“ He nodded. They agreed how to do this in practice. She would visit the Warder’s Yard once a week in the coming month and he would advise and look at the progress. “Good“, he ended. “It’s settled then.“


She smiled and appeared pleased with the accord. He returned the smile, his mind already on the type of exercises he would recommend. Her smile will fade though, he thought with some woe, when she realizes the physical training will at times be so hard she will have the taste of blood in her mouth.. but she is the one who insists on doing penance.. Hopefully she would later see the benefits of gaining better physical strength and endurance, as she gradually worked her way toward being raised to the Shawl.


"First though", he began, shifting his thoughts to the lessons at hand, "we shall complete the remaining pair of riding lessons. We’ll meet here outside the stables tomorrow morning, as before." He said. "Take it easy today", he added seriously, "skip any hard exercize this evening. Remember what you have been through, your body and your mind need to recuperate. Get some rest - and an early night." She nodded, smiled and they said goodbye. He watched her walk away towards the White Tower building and then, with a nod, pleased at the way things had worked out, he went inside the stables to talk with the Stablemaster and the stableboys before returning to his quarters in the Warder Barracks.



That night, Elessar was lost in Dreams and Memories of the Past..


..He was back in Ebou Dar, in the Tarasin Palace, on that fateful day, what felt long ago.. totally enveloped in the Sword duel of his Life.. as he was ‘Dancing Among Golden Leopards..’



..Borderlander-bred Gaidin of the White Tower and Bondmate to Carys Aes Sedai of the Yellow Ajah, he was one with his Blade, in this duel with the Shadow, as he flowed from one sword form into the next, in an endless graceful movement, Dancing Among Golden Leopards ..


There was a Clash of Swords, the sound of steel meeting steel, and sparks flew in the east wing room at the back of the Tarasin Palace, as the Warder’s blade met that of his Shadow opponent. From each corner of the partially lit square room a ferocious looking Altaran golden leopard statue stared intently at the two combatants, as if judging who was the most deserving. Elessar’s dark cloak flowed around him as he moved, as if touched by powerful ripples of wind. His sword was an extension of his arm and he almost floated from one step to the next, eyes intent on the Shadow figure before him, in a deadly Dance of the Blades.


Striking out in mid-stride, sword falling in an arc on his Darkfriend-opponent’s neck, the other man somehow deflected the blow and moved out of reach for a moment. Elessar found his balance, the move having carried him forwards at a slight angle, and stopped a few feet off to the side, his blade pointing downwards.


His hard focused eyes mirrored those of his opponent - and both men knew, without a word being said, that this was a fight to the death.



Staring hard at the tall, dark cloaked Warder, the man from Lugard had held his sword high, in challenge, almost as if proclaiming that if this somewhat modest and almost forgotten Palace backroom, with its four silent golden guardians, was to be their chosen battleground, then so be it!


Elessar was focused as he moved back and forth with elegance, striking out and parrying, feinting and thrusting. He moved with agility and purpose and so did his opponent who Elessar found surprisingly accomplished. It was almost as if there was a driving force behind the Lugarder. Sweat beaded on the Warder’s brow as he went on the attack once more. His opponent countered well but seemed also to be tiring somewhat, his strokes becoming ever slower. As they duelled Elessar felt the calm of the Flame and the Void filling him and it gave him inner strength.


Seeing weakness in his enemy then, he struck out with his blade, moving inside the other man’s guard and slamming the hilt of his sword into the man’s shoulder. The Darkfriend was too slow to defend himself, his sword coming up too late, and screamed out in pain as he fell to the floor in agony. Elessar combined sword forms and smashed his blade toward the man’s body to finish him off, but somehow the other man managed to twist to the side and the Warder’s strike missed. The momentum brought the Gaidin slightly off balance and he corrected by moving away from the man who was trying to gain his feet.


Elessar panted slightly, feeling some weariness rushing over him. He knew that he would have been much more tired had he not gained the added strength through the Bond from his Sedai. Perhaps the Bond would save his life today, even if his Bondholder was some way away in the city. She would know something was up with him. She would feel it. Now all he had to do was to stay alive! After their shared experiences in the relatively short time they had been acquainted, and their rewarding Warder-Sedai companionship on the road and in the face of grave danger, it might somehow be.. a touch annoying.. he thought wryly, if he were to go ahead and die right now. These thoughts went through his mind in the few seconds before he faced his adversary again. 



The man had by now regained his feet, and came toward the Warder with his sword half raised. He seemed surprisingly unaffected by the heavy sword-blow to his shoulder. Throwing the Gaidin a scornful look he said in a spiteful voice: “The Great Lord will enjoy your blood, Gaidin!” One moment he was several feet away, the next he was right in front of Elessar! The Warder did not have time to consider how the man had caught him off guard. He tried to deflect the blow but the Darkfriend moved with quick feet inside the Warder’s guard and struck out hard, his blade slicing into Elessar’s shoulder, drawing blood. Elessar cried out in pain, taking a step back, and brought his sword up to deflect a second blow. The man stepped aside, obviously less weary than he had let on. He turned almost nonchalantly toward the Warder and waited for him to rejoin the duel. Moving out of sword’s reach the Gaidin felt at his injury with his left arm. It was not a deep wound though it would need tending to. He tried to ignore the pain. I underestimated him, he thought darkly. I will not do that again. He met the other man’s ugly grin with a cold stare. Then he raised his sword again and they resumed their Dance.


Back and forth they flowed, thrusting and parrying, attacking and spinning out of range and moving swiftly from stance to stance, two opponents locked in deadly combat. At one point a sudden move from the Darkfriend brought his blade arching towards Elessar’s neck. Steel met steel but the blow was deflected and the Gaidin sidestepped out of the way of an oncoming strike. He in turn swept his scimitar in low and the Shadow figure blocked it and immediately retaliated, bringing his sword up and around in a way that gave his opponent only one blocking-move and one which could well leave him open for new attacks.. At another point, a little later on, Elessar suddenly moved forwards and performed a vertical slash, high to low, but which altered course in midswing. The other blocked the move deftly but the Warder followed up with another hard swing which was parried. Then the Gaidin changed form, performing a diagonal slash which began low and rose cleanly and on the return swing began a series of powerful overhand blows. This took great stamina and strength and Elessar was only able to keep it up for so long. The Darkfriend parried well, however, with powerful strokes, but was driven back on the defensive..


Elessar could not tell how long they had fought, but it felt like an eternity..


And just when he needed it the most, he found a deep strength from within. Though his body was almost exhausted he kept on fighting, refusing to give in. Perhaps it was that part of him that never would or could accept defeat that helped him now. Perhaps it also was his anger and fear of failing in his duty yet another time! And perhaps it was strength coming through the Bond from his Aes Sedai, as well as an attitude in him that nothing! was going to destroy his Bond with Carys. He fought on relentlessly against this clearly highly accomplished swordsman of the Dark.



Then it happened! Just as Elessar struck the Darkfriend in the side with his blade, in a surprise move where he combined several difficult sword forms, bringing the man to his knees, his sword falling to the floor, bells rang in the Warder’s ears, he felt dizzy and his movements slowed..


..He stumbled backwards.. away from the kneeling Darkfriend.. further back.. and then his hands touched the wall. Surprised that he had come so far back in the room he looked down and saw one of the golden leopards laying on its side. When did that happen? he wondered. Kneeling and touching the golden leopard gently on its head, his breath caught in his throat.. What..!?


All went white in his mind for a moment.. he was lost.. time seemed to stand still..


He could not explain..






But slowly, ever so slowly, all the white disappeared from his sight and the Palace room came into view once again. He blinked - and slowly felt his senses returning. Removing his hand from the golden leopard, standing up again against the wall, he breathed in and out, almost as if testing the air. His gaze fell upon the Shadow swordsman who was attempting to gain his feet, one hand on his blade. Elessar walked toward him, raised his blade and unceremoniously thrust it hard into the man’s back between the shoulder blade. The Darkfriend cried out in great pain and cursed loudly. As he fell backwards, blood gushing out of his mouth, his arm swung out almost reflexively and caught the Warder’s right leg.


A sharp knife cut deeply into Elessar’s flesh - and it was the Gaidin’s turn to cry out in pain. Elessar cursed loudly and berated himself for not being cautious enough, but even as he felt the pain run through his body he felt a sigh of relief that the knife had not been poisoned. That feeling of pain, sudden overpowering pain, I will never forget! He thought, recalling the poison-episode. Beside him the Darkfriend lay dead, his eyes forever lost to the Light of the world. His last thought before dying was one of horror: in his mind’s eye he imagined eternal torture from the Great Lord for his constant failures.


Elessar sat down on the floor, for a moment ignoring the pain and the exhaustion he felt. He put his sword aside and closed his eyes. This time, I did not fail! I did my duty! He thought.  A strong feeling came over him, of gladness, of deep contentment, of pride. Though he did not know how, he knew deep inside that this experience.. this necessary accomplishment.. had been a kind of cleansing for him. You must forgive yourself, Elessar! Leandreen’s whispered dream-words echoed in his mind and he felt tears starting to flow down his cheeks. A stream of tears. He could not stop them, and did not want to, nor the wide smile that gradually came upon his lips. It would take time to heal him completely, from the guilt that for so long had been a part of him, but he had started down that road, he knew that now.


He had started the process of forgiving himself..



He came abruptly awake, his heart beating hard, sweat beading on his forehead, his body half-raised from the bed, for a moment completely unaware of where he was. What!? His mind was still in the Tarasin Palace, lost in deep memories, and it took him a little time to readjust his thoughts and his vision. Then, recognizing his room, realizing it had been a dream, a dream filled with sharp memories, he relaxed somewhat, his head falling back on the pillow, his pulse gradually steading. Ebou Dar. He had not thought of that deadly sword duel for a good while and did not know what - that day’s dramatic, life or death, events perhaps? - had brought on these intense memories.. this dream.. of what had been. Carys.


Closing his eyes, he tried to push those memories away, in an attempt to find calm and get some proper sleep. He was only partially successful though and it took a while, as night continued its relentless journey toward dawn,  before he entered a welcome slumber, echoes of Ebou Dar slowly, ever so slowly dissipating from his mind..



The following morning, the Gaidin and the Accepted - teacher and pupil - met up at the stables as planned, and mounting their saddled horses they headed out of the city and back to the woods on the mainland. The weather was pleasant, with hardly any wind and a few clouds marring an otherwise ocean-blue sky, and they rode together in silence, Elessar feeling a lack of sleep from the night before, and Myrrhi lost in her own thoughts. By the time they arrived at the now familiar mud-paved track by the trees and the field, however, the Warder was fully awake and alert and ready for this last part of the lessions.




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To Myrrhi's delight, Elessar agreed on her proposal. "No problem," he said. "You can report to me. On a weekly basis." With a smile, he added that he could give the Accepted some suggestions, examples of exercises to try out. The man nodded and the young woman thanked him. She didn't know how to start with it all and she appreciated his help. She had some ideas of course, but she was not certain that what she had in mind was enough. Feeling a bit more relaxed, the Accepted allowed herself to chat with the Warder for a while. They exchanged some ideas about how the Accepted would have to report, to finally decide that Myrrhi would visit the Warder's Yard once a week to tell about her progress and receive new assignments.


"Good, it's settled then." Elessar said with a grin.

Myrrhi's smile echoed his grin. "It is indeed settled." She replied.


She knew that the penance she had asked for would not be an easy one. She knew that she would suffer from it. But it didn't matter. She needed it to feel better, to suppress some of her guilt.


Before parting, the Warder told her that she was not supposed to start exercising immediately. First, she had to recuperate, then she had to finish the riding lessons - which was a good idea, as the riding lessons didn't leave her much free time.


Elessar ordered his student to take it easy for the remaining part of the day and to go to sleep early. He wanted her to be fit for next day's lesson. The Accepted didn't protest, tired as she felt. She thanked the Warder one last time for the class and for his help before wishing him a good day. She left then to the Tower, to Valeri Sedai's study, hoping that everything would go according to plan.




Morning came. Myrrhi yawned and rubbed her eyes for a good five minutes before going out of bed. Something had woken her up right on time for her morning chores. Maybe it's because I am used to wake up at dawn? The Accepted wondered happily surprised. She didn't remember falling asleep.


The Mistress of the Novices had not been angry at her when she had told her made up story about the last riding class. Valeri Sedai had barely lifted an eyebrow. As if nothing had happened, she had sent Myrrhi to her next class. Strangely though, the young woman had never received her assignments for the night chores. For a while, she had even thought that she had been completely forgotten when the tasks had been divided. Seeing that nothing was coming and feeling more tired than ever, she had climbed up the Towers stairs back to her room as soon as her last class had ended. There, she crashed into her bed, closed her eyes and felt asleep almost immediately.


A good night of sleep had helped her feeling a bit better in her head. Physically, she was a mess though. She felt sore all over. Taking the time to get ready and to brush her hair before braiding them in an intricate braid, the young woman thought about the day to come. How would she feel in front of Elessar ? Her fall into the stream felt like a very bad dream.... but would she have the courage to ride like before?




As usually, the Warder had arrived first. He was waiting for her right in front of the stables. They politely greeted each other and talked a bit about each other's morning. They went to get the horses ready and set themselves on their way. The Accepted still felt tired. She preferred not to talk much, so she could focus on the road ahead. Elessar seemed to be in the same state. He didn't talk much either. It is only when they reached their usual training place, the open field they know knew like the back of their hand, that Myrrhi saw him shifting his position. He straightened his back and looked way more alert all of a sudden. As if energized by what she saw, the Accepted pushed Moonray so she would join her teacher's side.


"What is the program of the day?" she asked.





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.. The Benefits of learning Basic Survival Skills  ..



As Elessar brought his black warhorse to a standstill by the now very familiar mud-paved track and field, the Accepted pushed Moonray forward so she would join her teacher's side. Turning towards him, she asked what the program of the day would be?


“Actually“, Elessar replied with a grin. “I have a surprise for you“, he said. “Since this is the last lesson - a final ‘double-lesson’ if you wish, as we will finish the lessons today - I thought it would be suitable to make it something special“. He looked into her blue expectant eyes. “Something unexpected“. He could see from her look that the young woman was mightily curious as to what he had in mind. “First, we will ride for the longest distance yet“, he said, “and you will show me everything you have learned.“ He added. “And then..I will take you into the woods for some basic survival training.“ He saw the surprised look on her face and an accompanying grin and it pleased him. “Part of Warder-training, it is not something I suspect is high on the priority-list for Accepted in the White Tower..“, he said very drily. “But I think it can be useful, valuable for anyone, not least Aes Sedai - Green Sisters in particular“, he added with a glint in his eye, “who may be travelling extensively in the world on missions for the Tower.“ He nodded. “Also, it can be fun - and something different for you to have a go at.“


“First though, let’s ride!“ He explained that they would follow the mud-paved track southwards past the point they had ridden before, another few miles or so, first at a slow-to-medium canter and then at a medium-to-fast canter. He would watch closely how she handled the horse at all times, with special focus on her balance in the saddle, her use of the reins, use of her feet with the horse, and other cues and signals that were needed to control the mare satisfactorily. She nodded and gave Moonray an affectionate pat on the back, and then they were off. Dust rose into the air in their wake.



When they finally came to a stop, several miles to the south, they dismounted and tethered the horses to a tree, giving each mount a carrot to munch on, and sat down with their backs to a pair of large trunks. Elessar nodded pleased. “That was well done“. He said with a smile, meeting her eyes. “You have shown good improvement throughout. A few mistakes here and there, but you corrected well“. He added. “You are no expert rider yet - a few more years and you might become one“, he said with a grin, “but considering you have only had a couple of weeks to learn the basics, you can be proud of your achievement“. She blushed slightly, pleased by his words. “And now, this is your prize“. He grin broadened. “Basic survival training in the wild, a real treat for any Accepted of the White Tower“. She shared in his infectious laughter. He stood up and retrieved the extra sack he had brought, it had been tied to his saddlebag. “Here we have some equipment that will come in handy now“. He checked again that the horses were safely bound, and well enough hidden in the brush as at to avoid being spotted from the track, and then he waved for the Accepted to follow him as he headed along a narrow path into the heart of the woods.


After a while, they must have walked some distance, the Gaidin stopped. “Now then“, he began, “to survive in the wild, one needs several skills. Such as reading the sun and the wind, finding food and water, knowing basic first-aid, tracking-skills, basic hunting-skills..“ He started by teaching her how to read the sun and the wind. By recognizing the sun’s position in the sky a person could navigate and learn direction. This was very important if a person ever got lost. “Smelling” the wind could also be important. Feeling its direction and being aware how noise and, for instance, the smell of a fire was carried on the wind. Myrrhi listened attentively. It was difficult for him to read from her reaction if she found this very strange and unfamiliar or interesting and valuable - possibly a bit of both, he thought - but he hoped she would appreciate and enjoy this kind of ‘alternative lesson’. He took it as a good sign that she at least appeared interested, as she contributed to the lesson with some questions.


“Good. Now I shall show you how to find water and food“, Elessar said after a while. “Let us walk.” She followed him as he walked deeper into the woods. There were trees everywhere, patches of rock and hills and softer ground, and the terrain was not dissimilar from what they had experienced further north. After a long walk they came upon a crystal-clear pond. It was fairly quiet around, though the scurrying of small animal feet was heard on occasion, making the Warder think that there could be small game to be found in this forest-like land. Elessar stopped by the pond and faced the young woman. “Water is vital for survival. Look for it in the ground - he showed her how by using a stick into the soil besides the pond-edge - and gather it in a container when it rains. Or you can be lucky enough to come across a river or a pond such as this. Take water with you when on a trek, it can save your life.” He then proceeded to show her some basic first-aid - his thoughts went momentarily back to the river edge when he had saved Myrrhi’s life - and then some basic hunting and survival-skills; making a fire, finding berries and roots for nourishment, catching fish from the pond with makeshift-spears that he made from tree-branches (Myrrhi had great fun with that), setting snares for game in the woods (Myrrhi had less fun with that), searching for and identifying paths and tracks from animals, and using trees, large stones and other landmarks to identify an area or a direction.



It was well past noon when they stopped for a rest. Elessar handed the young woman a waterflask and a bite to eat, and drank and ate himself as he considered the next part of this basic survival lesson. They talked a little about inconsequential things and relaxed for a while in the fine weather before the Warder finally got to his feet. “So far so good“, he said. “But there is yet more to learn.“ Nodding to himself, he continued. “Another useful skill is how to build a shelter in the wild. For instance, for a travelling Aes Sedai and her Warder.“ There was an unmistakable glint in his eye this time. “To do so, use what tools you have, check your surroundings and look for suitable places which are safe and secluded and preferably sheltered from rain and cold winds.”


She joined him as they walked to the other side of the pond, walking along the waters edge when possible and along a path a little into the woods at places. As they walked the Warder gave examples of different kinds of shelters that could be built depending on the terrain and on the materials at hand. When they arrived, he pointed out potential sites for a shelter among the trees and overhanging branches, heavy brush and patches of rocks in the terrain around them. “In hill-country, in the Borderlands for example, there can be caves that can be used for shelter“, he added, “but it is very important in that case to check the cave very carefully beforehand, to avoid waking up a sleeping bear or some other not very amicable creature of the wild“. He said it with mirth in his voice, but she understood that it was a warning to be taken seriously. “In general, it is wise to be extra vigilant when travelling in the wild, in forests and woodlands“. He explained. “It is alas easy to be caught in swamps, quagmires and similar areas of boggy, wet and spongy ground.“


She asked some more questions in relation to what he had told her and he answered as well as he could. Then they walked on, even deeper into the woods, leaving the paths and instead walking straight across rougher, more overgrown, mossier and brush-heavy ground. Elessar wanted to show the Accepted how much harder it was to cover ground in that fashion. “Know your terrain, expert huntsmen of the wild always say“. He added. “And use it well“. There was definetly some wisdom in that.


They then began the long return-trek back to the horses. As they walked, Elessar spoke a little about the added challenges - or tasks - in the wild that he had experienced during Warder training. Myrrhi was especially amused by his story of having had to sit high up in a tree in the dark, deep in the woods without sleep, an entire night while being constantly vigilant and ready to face danger. It had been mentally exhausting, Elessar explained, but very useful in order to test one’s limits. He also told how he had learned to skin and cook animals he hunted and caught - rabbits for example - and how at the end of the trials he had had to make it for several days without food or water as part of the final survival test. “We’ll skip that part in your case“, he added with a grin. “You have had enough extracurricular activities, I think.“ She grinned back and they walked the rest of the way in silence. At last they arrived back at the place where the horses waited - and the mounts greeted them enthusiastically. Reaching into his sack, the Warder gave Moonray and Stormbreaker an apple each - a Green one this time - and then he and the young woman sat down to rest for a while before the long ride back. It was late afternoon, under a beautiful  sapphire-blue sky, the golden disc of the sun much further along on its path high above, when they finally rode across the West Bridge and into the centre of Tar Valon.


Standing outside the stables, having left their mounts in the affectionate care of the stableboys, Elessar looked closely at Myrrhi. She seemed to have an ambivalent look in her face but it was hard for him to interpret it. Perhaps she was a little sad that the lessons were over. Or perhaps she looked forward to returning to her everyday-life in the Tower. He smiled. “Your lessons are now completed, Accepted Myrrhi Morrigen“. He said. “I think you have done very well, considering the time that has been at our disposal. As I have said, it takes considerable time and practice to become a proficient rider, but you now know the basics and - perhaps in time? - you can build on that“. Turning slightly to gaze  into the stables toward the stall where Moonray stood, he added. “And you have certainly made a friend in there.“ He smiled again and his smile was mirrored in her face. She will never be that scared of horses again. That is a prize in itself. “I will inform Valeri Sedai that your riding lessons are finished and that you have completed them successfully. My Warder superior will also be notified in due course.“



He placed his hand on her shoulder, as he added, “And I will see you once weekly in the coming month, as we agreed upon, with regards to your physical exercize plan.“ The Accepted thanked him for all the lessons, not least for this last different lesson, and again for being such an understanding and - as she said again - a perfect teacher. All her praise almost made him embarrassed, but he was pleased by her reaction and that the lessons had gone so well. When he took his hand away from her shoulder, she placed her hand in his for a moment, adding that she looked forward to their coming meeting in a week’s time, when she would report to him about her progress with her physical exercize plan.


They said their goodbyes and Myrrhi walked off toward the White Tower while Elessar remained standing alone outside the stables for a long time, thinking how much, in many small but important ways, in spirit and in heart, this young woman from Andor reminded him of his lost Leandreen..




Edited by Elessar
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When Elessar announced that the lesson would be a double one, Myrrhi's heart tightened. On one hand, she felt sad. It would be strange to begin her days again with her old routine. Moonray would miss her too. She would still be able to see her, of course. But, riding on her would probably be out of the question. On another hand, getting a surprise from her teacher was something she had not expected. She knew he had been happy with her progress... However, the last time they had parted they had been talking about penance. Nothing had led her to think that he wanted to reward her nor that he wanted to do something special for her.


"First we will ride for the longest distance yet, and you will show me everything you have learned," he said. The Accepted, listening intensely to the Warder, nodded. She summoned all the memories she had of his explanations hoping that she would not miss any. She would have to pay attention to her elbows, her hands, the knees, her back, ... The whole list passed through her mind a couple of times.


"And then," her teacher went on. "I will take you into the woods for some basic survival training." The young woman had to stop herself from applauding. She didn't know what Elessar had in mind but it definitely sounded promising. Again, she thought about her decision to join the Green Ajah. This is so perfect! She thought, forgetting all about the penance she wanted to do and her wish to limit everything that brought her pleasure for a month.


Elessar seemed to understand what she was thinking. "Part of Warder-training, it is not something I suspect is high on the priority-list for Accepted in the White Tower. But I think it can be useful, valuable for anyone, not least Aes Sedai - Green Sisters in particular who may be traveling extensively in the world on missions for the Tower," he went on. "Also, it can be fun - and something different for you to have a go at."


Myrrhi thanked her teacher beaming. The Warder invited her to mount, after having explained where they would go. The first few miles would be on known paths but the Accepted would have to pay extra attention to her gestures and position on the saddle. The young woman patted her mare affectionately and off they went.



The journey through the city was an uneventful one. Myrrhi stayed silent, as she was focusing on her riding. She barely noticed the people who were walking in the streets of Tarvalon. Her goal was to make her teacher proud of her. The West Bridge came into view and she crossed it as silently as she had crossed the city. The frown she had on her face disappeared only when she arrived on the mainland. Having less people around made her feel more confident. She started to relax a bit. She didn't allow herself to chat, though. Eyes up front she went on.


It is only when they finally came to a stop that the young woman started to talk again. She dismounted, tethered Moonray on a tree and gave her a carrot. "You did well, girl," she said to the mare. "I am so proud of you." The vegetable disappeared in a fraction of a second and the Accepted laughed. She patted the horse, then came to sit next to Elessar.


"That was well done", he said with a smile. Still, he told her that he had noticed a couple of mistakes. "... but you corrected them well. You are no expert rider yet - a few more years and you might become one." He grinned then said that she could be proud of her achievement.  "I thank you, Elessar Gaidin," she replied feeling fire coming to her cheeks. The Warder's grin deepened as he added "And now, this is your prize. Basic survival training in the wild , a real treat for any Accepted of the White Tower." They both laughed, Myrrhi imagining some of her Accepted classmates in the same position. Some were definitely future Browns or White... survival would not be a prize for them, it would be the total opposite.


Elessar stood up and went to get a sack that had been tied to his saddle. It contained survival equipment, he explained to the Accepted. After checking the horses a last time, he wanted them to be hidden in the brush away from the track, he invited his students to follow a narrow path that would lead them into the heart of the woods. The young woman advanced quickly to join him, skirts of her dress raised high. Then, seeing the amount of branches, leaves and plants laying on the ground she attached them in her belt, freeing her legs. She had not seen many Sisters wearing breeches, not even the Greens, but they were what looked to be the most appropriate for the occasion.


After a while, the Warder stopped. He told his student about the useful skills to survive in the wild. None of them were familiar to Myrrhi. She couldn't read the sun nor the wind. She had no idea about how she could find food nor water. First aid, tracking, hunting were completely alien to her. Trying to smile, she concentrated on the Warder's words. He started by the ways to read the sun and the wind. His explanations were precise and clear. The Accepted absorbed his words like a sponge, repeating everything he said in her mind. She waited for each topic to be covered to ask the questions she had. She knew she must look very different from her usual self, more serious, more concentrated.


Then came the part of the lesson about finding water and food. For that, they walked deeper into the woods, until they reached a small pond. Its water was so clear that it was almost shining. Again, Elessar gave detailed explanations. Myrrhi listened to them all with great interest. Water was essential, so was food. She loved the part where she had to try to catch fishes with makeshift spears. Splashing the Warder first involuntarily, then a bit less involuntarily, she laughed loudly for the first time that day. Setting snares was less funny for the young woman. Her clumsiness led to a couple of small cuts, bruises and curses on her part.


Noon came and the teacher and his students had a small stop to rest. They ate and drank, taking the time to chat. Myrrhi felt very relaxed, she enjoyed the rays of the sun on her face.

"So far so good," Elessar finally said. "But there is yet more to learn." He nodded before continuing his survival class. This time he told her about the building of shelters. To be able to find the right spot seemed to be of the utmost importance. One needed to check the surroundings with care and use what tools one had at his or her disposal. To put his explanation into practice, he led Myrrhi in a walk to the other side of the pond. As they walked he gave example of different kind of shelters he had used in the past, their advantages or disadvantages depending on the terrain.


On their way back to the horses, Elessar talked a bit about his past and challenges he had to go through in the wild. Myrrhi liked to listen to his stories and these were particularly interesting after the day's lesson. She was happy to hear that she wouldn't have to skin nor cook animals for this lesson, as he had done in the past. She had been able to cook quite well, before joining the Tower, but that was many years ago. Now, killing an animal and skinning it was something she hoped she wouldn't have to do. She didn't think herself able to do so.




The lesson ended well. Elessar and Myrrhi rode back to the Tower, the Accepted trying to correct all the riding mistakes she detected. She dismounted, patted her mare and wished her goodbye before joining the Warder out of the stables.  She wanted to tell him something but she didn't know what. She wanted to thank him for the lesson, apologize for her behavior at the beginning of the lesson, then for the stream-mess as she now called it. She wanted to say that she didn't want the lesson to end, ... but she was an Accepted and there were things that were better left unsaid.


"Your lessons are now completed, Accepted Myrrhi Morrigen," he said. "I think you have done very well, considering the time that has been at our disposal. As I have said, it takes considerable time and practice to become a proficient rider, but you know the basics - and perhaps in time ? - you can build on that." The Warder turned his head towards the stables. "And you have certainly made a friend in there." He smiled, and the young woman smiled back. She was not afraid of horses anymore and Moonray had become a friend to her.


"I will inform Valeri Sedai that your riding lessons are finished and that you have completed them successfully. My Warder superior will also be notified in due course.

"Of course, Elessar Gaidin, she said, curtsying at the same time. As she straightened, the Warder placed a hand on her shoulder. "And I will see you once weekly in the coming month, as we agreed upon, with regards to your physical exercise plan."


"I thank you, Elessar Gaidin," she said. "For the quality of the lesson - today's lesson were especially important to me. I really don't want to die in the wilderness." She laughed, then her face suddenly became more serious. "You showed me a very different world than the Tower's  and what I have been used to. I also thank you for your patience and your understanding. You have been a perfect teacher" she added, placing her hands on his. "I am looking forward for our next meeting...."


They exchanged a couple more words then said their goodbyes. Myrrhi went to her next class, her heart heavy. Something... a lot of things had changed for her. She felt more confident, a bit less of a child, more like an Aes Sedai into training. She knew she would have to keep this for herself though. Fully raised Sisters would not like to hear such things. As she came across the corridors, she started to think about the physical exercise she should do. The places where she had channeled in secret as a Novice would come handy once more. She also thought about some of the books she had seen in the library about the training of soldiers and Warders. Those would probably help as well...


Elessar Gaidin, you will be proud of me !


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.. Epilogue: ‘The Light of Tar Valon’ ..



It was evening, darkness falling over the city outside, as Elessar sat by a table at the back of a Tar Valon inn, enjoying a glass of ale. He had been thinking about the past two weeks, about the riding lessons with Myrrhi and what they had accomplished. Earlier he had made his final report to the Mistress of Novices, praising the Accepted for her efforts and mentality, and afterwards had infomed his Warder superior of the completion of the lessons. He had then gone back to his quarters in the Warder Barracks, had a pleasant shower and had something to eat before doing some necessary errands in the city. After that he had headed for this inn, ‘The White Swan’ as it was called, which was situated some streets south of the White Tower, next to a couple of bars. It was a decent inn, the Warder thought, not among the finest in the city but neither among the poorest. It was clean and well-run, with good ale to boot, and Elessar had often enjoyed the entertainment there.


Now he was waiting for a gleeman to enter the stage and looking forward to hearing his songs and poems. The inn was quite full this evening with a lively crowd, the Warder saw, locals and foreigners alike, but there had been no trouble so far, he noted. A couple of broad-shouldered, big-muscled male bouncers stood by the door, ready to intervene if any troublemakers should enter the establishment or if any of the present guests were to make any trouble.


When the gleeman - a dark-haired man of middle years with a round face, piercing eyes and a beard, wearing a cloak of many colourful patches - finally came upon the stage in the Common Room, all attention  switched to him. He gave a theatrical bow, worthy of his illustrious profession, and then without further ado started playing the flute, a jaunty tune that found favour with the crowd. He followed it with a similar style tune from the far south. When he was finished the crowd showed its appreciation, banging their tables enthusiastically. He bowed his thanks and then put away his instrument. When the crowd had quieted, he began his storytelling, giving the people several heroic stories of old. Elessar recognized them and listened attentively, enjoying the entertainment. He subsequently joined the others clapping when the gleeman was finished. Sipping his ale in contentment, he watched the gleeman walk off stage for a short break.



The innkeeper, a somewhat fat man wearing an apron, with little hair, a big nose and a no-nonsense attitude, gazed around his Common Room with satisfaction, very glad of the substantial crowd gathered and thereby a substantial amount of money in his till. Elessar grinned inwardly, having seen such a rapacious look on many an innkeeper’s face over the years. Well, good for him, he thought good-naturedly. When business is good, everyone is happy!


His thoughts shifted then.. as he thought again of the young Andoran woman in her banded white dress..


..with sparkling blue eyes..




She is so much like Leandreen.. that same inner fire.. He thought not for the first time.


He wondered how she would manage with her penance.. the hard physical exercises he had made her do..


It would be strange, an unusual activity for her, he guessed, and - if carried out properly - periodically more.. uncomfortable.. than she would have presumed, but he did not doubt that she would succeed. She had inherited Leandreen’s persistence and stubbornness too, from what he had seen, and was not the kind of person who would easily give up on any task. He smiled warmly, thinking back on some of the things they had experienced together in the past few weeks.. he had really enjoyed their time together, as teacher and pupil.. and he looked forward to seeing her again in the weekly meetings in the coming month to evaluate her physical exercises..


A kindred spirit, that is what it is.. just like with Leandreen..


His momentary reminiscence and reverie was broken by the return of the gleeman on stage, and the Gaidin shifted his attention back to the talented storyteller..


..echoes of those sparkling blue eyes receding into the back of his mind.



The gleeman told the expectant crowd that now he would recite a famous poem about Aes Sedai and Tar Valon, this glorious city of the Aes Sedai that they were in which had withstood time and toll. ‘The Light of Tar Valon’ the poem was called, he said, and several of those present nodded in appreciation and recognition and there were also a few cheers. Elessar too thought it a fitting subject for a poem, to be recited here in this wondrous city of the Ages.



A Majestic city indeed, Tar Valon, he thought with reverence. As the poets say, a city Bathed in Light!



He had read this poem several times, he recalled, it was another one of his many favourites, but he had in fact not heard it recited by a gleeman before. He therefore looked forward to this occasion, a proper treat as he saw it, and waited excitedly with the others as the storyteller prepared himself for his performance.



Soon Elessar of Kandor, mirroring the behaviour of the others present, lost himself in the magical storytelling, carried away by echoes of myth and legend and history, deep into Tar Valon’s distant past - effortlessly swept away on the eternal Winds of Time..





’The Light of Tar Valon’


The Light of Tar Valon, shines Vibrant and Pure

The Heart of this Island beats Strongly for Sure

For Ages and Time, a Stronghold for Truth

And Governed by Sisters of Power in Sooth


Construction of the City near a Century Began

After the Breaking, and in Time’s true Span

When Elisane Tishar the Amylin Became

Protector of the Seals, Defender of the Flame


Ogier Stonemasons, Masters of their Craft

Created wonders, they Laboured and they Laughed

As Marvels Arose, bridges, buildings, towers Shone

With Aes Sedai help, they Sculpted Walls and Throne


A Glorious Sight, it was a Wonder to Behold

A Hundred Years to Build, striving hard, we are Told

And Central to all was the White Tower Bright

The Pinnacle of Skill, and the Power of Light


Under Attack in the Trolloc Wars it Came

The Shining Walls stood against Shadowspawn and Flame

The Forces pressed hard, Defenders tried to Stall

But Rashima Kerenmosa, she Prevented its Fall


A Thousand years later, after Covenant and Pact

As a False Dragon’s army, the City Attacked

Seizing two great Bridges when Victory was Set

But Hawkwing’s Army, it destroyed the Threat


Later the High King turned Foe, and in Pain

Besieged it for Years as they Struggled in Vain

But finally as Hawkwing passed on Did they Sway

The Siege was lifted and the Troops went Away


Queen Ishara of Andor played a Part in this All

Convincing the Commander of the Siege of its Fall

No Damage was sustained in the City in the End

And Tar Valon and Andor became Allies and Friend


As the Site of the Battle of the Shining Walls

Tar Valon felt threatened by Aiel Battle-Calls

As they hunted King Laman of Cairhien, by Decree

In Vengeance, for destroying the Avendoraldera Tree


A Center of Power, the Island’s Prevailed

For Leadership and Courage, the Battle-waves Sailed

And Gathered the Nations, through Ages and Might

To Stand against Darkness, the Shadow to Fight


The Light of Tar Valon, burns Brightly and True

In lee of Dragonmount, the Erinin in View

As a Beacon of Hope, the City Will Stand

With Aes Sedai in Strength, Protecting the Land




  ▀▄ ▀▄ ▀▄ 



Edited by Elessar
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